7. Notre Dame College

Notre Dame College
Notre Dame College on Staten Island. Courtesy of The New York Public Library

Notre Dame College was a private Catholic women’s college on Staten Island, which opened in 1933. The school began as an affiliate of Fordham University before merging with St. John’s University. The college started with just 13 students and had its first graduating class in 1935. The college was located at the former estate of Herbert Gans, whose family operated a steamship company. Gans and his wife befriended Mother Saint Egbert, who was named director of a Fordham University extension at the Notre Dame Academy nearby.

After the college received a charter, the Gans sold their mansion, and buildings nearby were slowly added over the years. The Gans sold their full estate in 1955, doubling the size of the campus, including what would become Spellman Library. The college continued growing its campus with the 1965 purchase of an English Tudor home, though it struggled in the 1960s to survive. It merged with St. John’s in 1971 to become the university’s Staten Island campus.