Buildings and Grounds
In 1956, thirty-four acres were deeded to the Cistercians. Since then we have purchased more of the surrounding land, and today the abbey owns about eighty acres, which provide excellent insulation from any future development in the area. The monastery is near Lake Carolyn in Las Colinas, a section of the city of Irving developed for offices and business. The University of Dallas, a Catholic liberal arts university, is located less than one mile from the monastery. Wooded with mesquite, cottonwood, and oak trees, the monastery’s land is approximately three miles west from the city limits of Dallas. The local wildlife, which nests anywhere from the undeveloped acreage around the monastery to our sacristy window, is varied and pleasant; it includes armadillos, bobcats, coyotes, egrets, possums, raccoons, rat-snakes, rabbits, red-tailed hawks, roadrunners, skunks, and tree frogs. In the spring, a beautiful assortment of Texas wildflowers—Basket flowers, Black-eyed Susans, Bluebonnets, Dogwood blossoms, Indian Blankets, and Indian Paintbrushs—bloom around the monastery.
The first wing of the monastery, the south wing, was completed in December 1957. The building was designed by Adams & Adams architectural firm and was quite modern and comfortable for the day’s standards. In 1959, the east wing was built by the same firm. The design of the west wing by O’Neil Ford & Duane Landry Associate Architects departed slightly from the aesthetic of the previous two wings and was completed in 1964. With the addition of the west wing, the traditional “U-shape” of the monastery was secured, and only a church was missing to complete the cloister. However, further developments of the monastery were impossible in the 1960’s because of the attention and finances needed for the foundation of the preparatory school.
But in 1991 an initiative was undertaken by the school’s alumni to build a church for the monastery. Gary Cunningham, an alumnus who graduated in 1972, was selected as the architect. Shortly after the completion of construction in 1992, the church received praise from architecture critic David Dillon in the Dallas Morning News. The church is visited regularly by architectural students and lay people alike and is even used as an example of cut stone in a construction technology textbook.