Holy Name ‘History Lounge’ seeks memories Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Feb. 04, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
marc ott
Marc Ott, lead architect for Gorman & Company, displays some of the items that will be part of the History Lounge in Holy Name Heights, the former Holy Name Seminary in Madison (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash).

MADISON -- “We really want to tell the entire story of what it was like to leave home and come to a seminary school and live every day with hundreds of other young men.”

In addition to being the lead architect on the project to repurpose the Bishop O’Connor Center (BOC) in Madison -- the former Holy Name Seminary -- Marc Ott from Gorman & Company has taken on a sentimental role.

Ott, member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, along with his wife and children who attend school there, is heading up the efforts to make part of the Holy Name Heights building a museum.

The so-called “History Lounge,” along with other parts of the building, will tell the stories of more than three decades of students who learned and lived within its walls.

The project has sentimental meaning for Ott who is a 1992 graduate of New Glarus High School and used to compete at Holy Name in football and wrestling.

Ott said it’s a “very special connection” and a “lot of fun” to work on the project there.

Looking back and looking ahead

Holy Name opened in 1963 and closed in 1995. The building was then renovated and re-opened in 1998 as the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center.

Since then, it has been serving as the home of diocesan offices and other organizations such as Catholic Charities, the Catholic Herald, Relevant Radio, and Catholic Mutual Group.

Within the last few years, studies were done to determine how to make better use of the building.


A decision was made for a historic redevelopment of the building, which would include converting part of it into 53 residential apartment units, to be called Holy Name Heights, along with still housing the diocesan and organization offices.

Gorman & Company was engaged by the diocese to serve as the developer of the project and provide property management for the redevelopment.

Gorman successfully nominated the BOC as an historic landmark and had it placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

That designation, along with Gorman’s own tradition of telling histories of the buildings they work on, meant the finished project -- made up of both apartments and offices -- would offer a look to the past.

Keeping the history alive

Along with keeping the Bishop O’Donnell Holy Name Memorial Chapel intact, other parts of the Holy Name building are being restored to their original forms.

The gym will have the Holy Name championship banners rehung to “try to recreate as much as we can” how the gym looked when the school was open, Ott said.

In the residential part of the building, some of the hallways will remain as they did when the building opened in 1963 -- with the original flooring and tiles to “really get the feel of what it was like to live here,” said Ott.

Ott added the next stage will be to decorate the hallways with pictures from the seminary days to create a “time capsule” effect.

History Lounge

A gem of the finished project will be the History Lounge, which will be open to the public and located on the lower level of the building.

It will have display cases featuring yearbooks, sports uniforms, and other items that will tell the stories of life at Holy Name.

Class photos from all the graduating classes will also line the hallways leading to the lounge.

“Hopefully people will sit and lounge and gather and tell stories,” said Ott.

The lounge is also part a “new movement to reach out and reconnect with the alumni.”

Ott said there is “still a very proud alumni group out there . . . they didn’t feel like they really had a place to go to reconnect with Holy Name Seminary” when it closed.

Part of the reconnecting is asking for alumni help in donating items for the History Lounge.

Ott said he’s hoping for donations of personal items such as class rings, letter jackets, art projects, or anything that shows what life was like at the school or in the dorms -- “anything that they did out here that they saved because it meant something to them . . . anything that really told the story of life out here.”

Some of the more notable items Ott is hoping to get are costumes from musicals put on by the school such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Fiddler on the Roof.

Ott is also working on digitizing the yearbooks and other documents so they can be viewed by everyone on electronic devices in the lounge.

All of the donated items will either be locked in glass cases or kept in storage in the newly constructed Alumni Office.

People who donate items can also have their names next to their particular items in the lounge.

Ott is also hoping Holy Name alumni will step up and coordinate the History Lounge and help rotate new items in and out of it.

“Come on back. Come see what we did. Hopefully we made you proud,” said Ott.

Those interested in donating items should contact Marc Ott at 608-835-6388 or email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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