The "original" Observatory consisted of a newly purchased equatorial on top of the Water Tower in 1890. Several years later in 1894, due to Father Subprior Peter Engel's persitance and Abbott Bernard Lockinar's cooperation with him, a separate building was constructed from donations given by the local community. In November 1894, the original telescope at the top of the Water Tower, along with the other new equipment, was removed and placed in the new Observatory. The original instruments were from Geo N. Saegmueller & Co., Washington D.C. and cost $6,000. The building had no heating because the astronomy equipment is required to stay at the same temperature as the outdoors.
Observatory Hill was a favorite spot for sledding, ending on the frozen ice of Lake Sagatagan.
The Observatory was razed and its dome was removed in September 1961.
In the summer of 1969, the New Observatory was built near the orchards at Saint John's University. The new building and equipment cost around $25,000. There are five telescopes, and the Observatory is part of the Physics Department.
Anselm, Fr. "The Observatory." The Record, January 1, 1895, p. 2.
Coyne, Jim. "Peerless Paul Peeps at Planets." The Record, January 13, 1956, p. 2.
Fennessy, Sean and Julia Klinkhammer. "Observatory Offers Great View." The Record, January 22, 1987, p. 7.
"New Stargazing Center Opened for Student Use." The Record, November 13, 1970, p. 3.
Williams, Mike. "History of a Memory," Prep World, November/December 1961, p. 36.