Former Convent Converted to Housing

Students from USF Live in Former St. Anne’s Nuns’ Domicile

By Jonathan Farrell


While the housing crisis in the City has been a dilemma for families, it has also been an

issue for colleges and universities as well, including the University of

San Francisco (USF).


Even with construction over the past few years at the Lone Mountain campus, USF has

been in need of housing for its students.


Over this past year, the former Sisters’ Convent of St. Anne’s of the Sunset Church,

located on 14th Avenue near Judah Street, was converted for student housing and with

the incoming fall semester’s students will house 45 law students.


The Romanesque steeple of St. Anne’s is a familiar sight to many residents of the

avenues. It has Basilica-like details, and is painted a coral-pink color.


Built in the 1920’s, the church and parochial elementary school have been serving the

neighborhood for decades. At its annual Novena in July, and numerous other festivals

and fundraisers, Fr. Daniel Nascimento is present. He is the pastor at St. Anne’s.


“When the Sisters of The Presentation order, who used to teach at St. Anne’s school, left

the school in 2004, the space was then leased,” Fr. Nascimento said.


For more than 10 years the upper floors of the Sisters’ Convent were used as a retreat.

Even during that time the space was underutilized.


“We explored different uses for the convent and considered using it as a senior living

facility, office space for non-profits, a transitional home for the homeless

and, (at one point) as a home for Syrian refugees,” Fr. Nascimento said.


“The one use that made the most sense was to use the convent as a student residence,

and USF expressed an interest in utilizing the second and third floors of the building for

its post-graduate level law students,” he said.


In December, 2016, the parish community was encouraged to attend an informal

meeting with USF representatives to allow for comments, questions and to express

any concerns they had.


The first floor and basement level of the convent will continue in its current use for

kindergarten, preschool and a pastoral center for the Chinese school and youth ministry.


Leasing the available space to USF is mutually beneficial. It helps St. Anne’s financially

and helps USF with a pressing student housing need. Representatives at USF describe the

arrangement as a unique partnership between the parish and the university.


The result  is students on two fully-renovated floors of the St. Anne’s convent building

for USF to use exclusively for its law students. The newly-established facilities have a

separate, and dedicated, entrance.


Renovations, retrofits and refurbishing of the convent included rebuilding walls to

separate the new tenants and the church. USF officials have reassured parish members

and St. Anne’s School that the new law student tenants will be under a strict policy not to

interfere or disrupt the routine of the church and elementary school in any way.

A prefect (or resident assistant) will be on site and any issues or concerns the community

has can be addressed by the USF housing office.


Also, as part of the agreement contract, all USF students who reside in the new law

school housing do not have parking privileges. With the main USF campus a mile-and-a-

half away, the students are required to use public transit. The university will provide the

students with Clipper transit cards.


The Jesuit order that oversees the University of San Francisco is recognized as one of

the most prestigious and prominent in the worldwide Roman Catholic Church.

According to “U.S. News & World Report’s” “best law schools,” USF came in at number

107 in the magazine’s annual list for 2017. It also mentioned that tuition at the

162-year-old Catholic university is about $48,000 per year.


The university has a faculty staff of about 60. The enrollment of the law school

is more than 400. The total number of students enrolled in the fall semester at USF,

which is located at Fulton Street and Parker Avenue, is more than 11,000.


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