St. Xavier’s College, founded in 1860 by the Jesuits, was named after St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit saint of the 16th century from Basque country, north of Spain. The founder of the school is Fr. Henri Depelchin, who oversaw most of the groundwork, during its early years. It is interesting to note that, the campus of St. Xavier’s School and College was built on the ashes of Sans Souci Theatre, located at 30, Park Street. In 1843, when Sans Souci was burnt to the ground, the site was bought by seven Belgian Jesuits for the construction of this educational institute.
The college opened with only 30 students. Two years later, in 1862, it was affiliated to Calcutta University. During the early days, there was a paucity of funds for expansion work in classrooms and to accommodate the Jesuits fathers. On behalf of the rector, an appeal to the public for generous donation and assistance was published in newspapers in 1864, and it was responded well by the well-wishers. Apart from that, Fr Depelchin and his assistant and Br. Koppes, the builder, tried their best and went around collecting funds.
The construction of the present imposing five-storied building of the Institution was completed in six years, from 1934 to 1940. The newly constructed building at 30 Park Street is actually the combination of adjoining plot numbers 10 and 11, which were purchased at a later date. The cost of the construction was collected from the liberal donation of the general public of Calcutta, assistance from Belgium, and the rental received from the American army that occupied the building during the Second World War.
The college has a Morning section, meant for boys, that offers only the Commerce course. The Day section houses the Arts and Science departments in various subjects, along with the co-educational Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Business Administration programs. The college is now all set to become a full fledged university, with some new courses including an MBA. Any ex-student of the College feels proud to be referred as a ‘Xaverian’.
Today, the college classes are spread throughout the four floors across the two buildings. There are over 50 classrooms, audio-visual rooms, and computer laboratories. The auditorium, with proper sound and lighting systems, can accommodate about eight hundred people at a time. Football and basketball courts, located in the backyard of the main college building, are shared with St. Xavier’s Collegiate School. The college also has a well equipped observatory.
The college is soon to become a full-fledged university and its second campus in Salt Lake City is already in the cards.