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CSE Student Writes Prize-Winning Essay on Sisters of Charity Motherhouse Architect

CSE Student Writes Prize-Winning Essay on Sisters of Charity Motherhouse Architect

Morristown, N.J. (March 20, 2014) – Delving into the past can bring rewards in the present. While many CSE students were lounging over winter break, Ashley Bouwense, '16, English major art/education minor, was busy in the Sisters of Charity archives dusting off old original drawings, studio memoranda and correspondence on campus buildings. Her research became the basis for an essay on Patrick Charles Keely, 19th century architect of the Motherhouse and more than 700 other churches and ecclesiastical buildings in the United States and Canada.



Ashley submitted her work to Monument Conservancy, sponsors of a contest aimed at rediscovering Keely, defining his legacy and highlighting his influence on his son-in-law Thomas Houghton, who designed the present Holy Family Chapel. Her essay won, earned her a $500 prize and recognition at the group's annual symposium in New York City in late March.

"It feels really good to win," said the Long Valley, N.J., resident. "I want to thank Dr. Virginia Butera, CSE art department chair and art history professor, for encouraging me to enter the contest, and Sr. Noreen Neary, director of the archives, for helping in my research of Keely."

This combination proved perfect, giving Ashley perspective and access to information not available elsewhere.

"I can really appreciate the style and architecture of the buildings through things I learned in my art history class," said Ashley. "I really could relate to the subject thanks to my classroom work."

The conservancy lauded Ashley's work and that of two other CSE students who submitted essays, Adia Boyd and Alexandria DeSapio, and professors in addition to Dr. Butera who encouraged students, Dr. John Marlin and Dr. George Sirgiovanni.

"All three papers provided evidence that Keely deserves an extended scholarly article on his life, career and some assessment of his place and influence on American religious architecture," the conservancy wrote. "... Ashley's essay was outstanding and she is the proper recipient of the $500 prize."

"Ashley underscores the great intellectual curiosity and academic rigor that our best CSE students possess," said Dr. Butera. "She performed excellent primary and secondary research, took photographs and wrote and re-wrote her observations in order to produce the award-winning paper. The art department applauds her multi-talented efforts and her insights."

For more information on the conservancy, visit

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History Program
Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

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