Belfield & Wakefield: A Link to La Salle's Past
La Salle University sits on land rich with history. Here are just a few highlights:
- William Penn’s colonial secretary, James Logan (who came to America in 1699), owned what is now La Salle’s south campus. To Logan’s home "Stenton" (still standing and owned by the City of Philadelphia) and its lands (now, in part, our lands) came George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, James Madison, and many others.
- During the Revolutionary War Battle of Germantown, British General Howe’s troops camped on what is now our south campus.
- Famous colonial portrait painter Charles Willson Peale lived at Belfield Mansion—still standing—from 1810 until 1821. Belfield Mansion, partly dating from 1708, is one of the oldest university buildings in use in the country.
- Land between Belfield Mansion and Connelly Library (now the site of our tennis courts) was described in 1910 as a sacred spot for the sport of cricket in America: "The memories of these days are precious, and it would seem that Providence had preserved this lovely spot intact for the sentimental old cricketers, as the Magna Charta and the Liberty Bell are preserved..."
- St. Mutien’s Christian Brothers’ Residence (known as "Little Wakefield" when it was built in 1829) was the home of Thomas R. Fisher, "credited with being first in the United States to conduct and successfully manage an organized mill in which a number of employees were engaged with steady work at good rates of pay." One of the millraces for the "Wakefield Mill" is still visible near our Communication Center.
- Owen Wister, author of The Virginian--the first "Western," met his wife in what is now La Salle’s Fine Arts Studio.
We invite you to discover more about La Salle’s local history by exploring the collections of articles below. These articles were previously published as part of the "Belfield and Wakefield: A Link to La Salle's History" website, 1994. They have been reproduced here with the permission of Dr. James A. Butler.