Shortly after the Civil War, the Caldwell Place, a tract of some 500 acres in Gaston County, North Carolina was purchased by the Reverend Jeremiah O’Connell, a missionary priest. It was his desire that this tract be accepted by a religious community that would use it to develop an institution for the education of youth. At the request of Bishop James Gibbons of Richmond, Virginia, the Benedictine Monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania agreed to accept the land and to found a community and school. On April 21, 1876, the Reverend Herman Wolfe, O.S.B., arrived to take possession of the property. The young foundation became an independent abbey on December 19, 1884, with the Right Reverend Leo Haid, O.S.B., elected as the first abbot on July 14, 1885.
Originally chartered as St. Mary’s College by the State of North Carolina on April 1, 1886, the school’s name was changed to Belmont Abbey College in 1913. Reorganized as a junior college in 1928, it became a four-year institution in September 1952, and a coeducational institution for resident students in 1972.
“My Lord of Belmont” written by monk Fr. Paschal Baumstein, OSB is a comprehensive history of Belmont Abbey Monastery and College. Available from The Catholic Shoppe.
A Historical Tour of the Campus
Belmont Abbey College is located in the historic town of Belmont, ten miles west of Charlotte, the largest city in the Carolinas. Students who come from other areas have a chance to see and become part of the educational, economic, and cultural dynamism of the Piedmont area of North Carolina.
Interstate 85 conveniently abuts the campus on its way to other thriving areas in the Carolinas. Charlotte Douglas International Airport, one of the South’s major transportation hubs, is ten minutes away.
The scenic campus is impressive! Most of the older buildings, which were engineered and built by the monks themselves before the beginning of the twentieth century, provide charm and atmosphere. There are also many modern buildings, and the wooded, landscaped grounds provide an ideal setting for study. The entire central campus was designated as a National Historic District in 1993.
The oldest building on campus is the Monastery, the residence of the monastic community. Robert Lee Stowe Hall contains administrative offices and classrooms for many of the liberal arts courses. Located in St. Leo Hall are the Grace Auditorium, Career Services, the College Bookstore, The Catholic Shoppe, and faculty offices. Laboratory facilities and equipment are located in the William Gaston Science Building.
The Abbot Walter Coggin Student Commons houses the 24-hour student center, mail room, and Student Life offices; the new dining hall is adjacent.
To the east of the academic area is a residential complex of four residence halls. O’Connell, Poellath and Raphael Arthur Halls are built in a modular style, with suites of four rooms and a bath to serve four to eight students. Cuthbert Allen is a four-building complex, each housing thirty-two students.
Between the Student Commons and the Athletic Fields are our newest buildings on campus–St. Benedict and St. Scholastica resident halls, which opened in the fall 2013. Designed with apartment style suites of two rooms and a shared bathroom, each of these new residence halls houses 55 beds, a common area, chapel, kitchen/lounge area and laundry room. A beautiful open courtyard connects the two buildings.
The Haid includes the Abbey Theater, a ballroom for College functions, the campus Information Technology operations, and the Wellness Center.
The Lowry Alumni House, which opened in the fall of 2007, is home to the Alumni Office and also an office for Admissions campus tours.
The St. Joseph Eucharistic Adoration Chapel was dedicated in the fall of 2008.
Maurus Hall houses Holy Grounds, a campus cafe and coffee shop. The Wheeler Center for physical education houses a gymnasium, which seats 1,500, instructional facilities, an auxiliary gymnasium and a recently renovated fitness center, both open to the entire College community. Adjoining the residential complex and the physical education building, large playing fields provide excellent space for outdoor athletics. This student activity area includes a baseball diamond, a soccer field, a softball field, and intramural fields. A quarter-mile track of asphalt circles the soccer field.
The Abbey Basilica, Mary Help of Christians, built in neo-Gothic style in 1892, was completely renovated in 1965 in a most striking manner. The church, which contains prize-winning painted glass windows and a unique baptismal font, is listed on The National Register of Historic Places. In 1998, the church was named a minor Basilica by the Vatican.
The Abbot Vincent Taylor Library contains more than 125,000 print books, 75,000 e-books, over 100 databases, and other digital sources, multimedia collections (DVDs, CDs), periodicals and microfilms, all searchable through the online catalog. Wireless internet access is available throughout the building. The main floor houses the Learning Commons, featuring reading and reference areas with workstations, group study tables, laptop plug-in carrels, and the Carter Center computer lab where reference librarians teach research skills and information literacy, and which are also available for faculty reservations. The main floor also houses the technical services and interlibrary loan department, administrative offices, and equipment for printing, scanning, faxing, and photocopying. On the lower floor are current and bound periodicals, rare books, the monastic collection in the Benedictine Room, and multimedia materials and equipment. The open-stack book collection is classified according to the Library of Congress system. The book stacks are located on both the main floor and the lower level.
The Library’s Learning Commons is a focus of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Designated as PILOT, for Promoting Information Literacy Over Time, this initiative sponsors information literacy sessions during the First Year Symposium; research-intensive experiences tailored to Rhetoric I & II; and discipline-specific pilot and capstone courses with assessment rubrics designed around the information literacy standards established by the Association of College & Research Libraries.
The Sacred Heart Campus is located on the outskirts of downtown Belmont, and currently houses the Sister Christine Beck Department of Education and the Adult Degree Program offices. Evening courses for Adult Degree Program students are also offered at Charlotte Catholic High School, twenty miles south and east of main campus.
Belmont Abbey College is a member of the Charlotte Area Educational Consortium, a cooperative venture that includes 23 colleges and universities in the greater Charlotte area. The free exchange of library facilities and transfer credits multiplies educational opportunities for all members, which include Belmont Abbey College, Cabarrus College of Health Sciences, Carolinas College of Health Sciences, Catawba College, Catawba Valley Community College, Central Piedmont Community College, Cleveland Community College, Davidson College, Gardner-Webb University, Gaston College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Johnson C. Smith University, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Livingstone College, Mitchell Community College, Pfeiffer University, Queens University, South Piedmont Community College, Stanly Community College, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of South Carolina at Lancaster, Wingate University, Winthrop University, and York Technical College.