Driving onto Cabrini’s campus, especially for commuters, can present its challenges. The incessant traffic jams, the rude drivers, the constant red lights. Perhaps the most challenging part of the daily commute, is not the commute itself, but getting onto the driveway here.
It has taken me a few tries, but I have mastered the art of entering the school. Go past the entrance gates, then quickly cut my wheels to the left and hit the one patch of driveway that is actually level.
It has not always been this easy though. I have turned too soon, scraping the undercarriage of my car. On one such occasion, in a flurry of swears and curses, I noticed the house that sits next to the gates.
Always with a car parked outside of it, I wondered who actually resides next to the stoic entrance gates.
The gate house is one of the remaining original buildings on campus, from the time the school bought the estate. In the early 1900s, cars were non-existent, and horse-and-buggy carriages were the way to get around. The house by the gates is where the carriage driver would reside.
With the advent of cars in later years, the gate house was home for approximately four chauffeurs, with the head chauffeur in charge of the house. It was also once believed that the groundskeepers of the estate resided in the gate house. However, according to Martha Dale, director of alumni affairs, that is not true.
Dale, who is an authority on what life was like on the estate before it was a college, says that the groundskeepers lived on the second floor of Grace Hall, above the stables.
When the estate was purchased by the college, the gate house became the home of the campus chaplain, and remained that for many years. Today, it is the home of Sister Arlene Van Dusen, of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, founded by Mother Frances Cabrini.
The gate house is not the only building that the sisters use on campus. Anyone driving out the back of the college will notice the offshoot of the main driveway. Beyond the “Do Not Enter” sign, is the Emmaus Retreat House, also belonging to the sisters. The house serves as a getaway, complete with swimming pool for the sisters.
According to Dale, the retreat house was once the pump house and pool house, where the pool equipment was stored. It also served as a spring house for the estate, where food was stored and kept fresh.
So, until the hierarchy of Cabrini install some kind of roller-coaster car pulley system, many people will be noticing the gate house, and wondering how they manage to make it up the driveway.