108-year-old house makes a big move on Bellarmine campus


For a 108-year-old two-story building, Bellarmine College Prep’s Berchmans Hall sure gets around. The two-story Dutch Colonial house, the oldest building on the grounds of the Jesuit boys school in San Jose, was moved a short distance Saturday to make room for a new building in the works.

And it’s not the house’s first move, either.

Berchmans Hall, a 1915-era structure once known as the historic Poelhemus House, is moved from its Bellarmine campus location across Elm Street in San Jose, Calif., by Kelly Brothers House Movers, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

The Polhemus House, as it was originally known, was built in 1916 on the corner of Stockton Avenue and Polhemus Street, which is now West Taylor Street (both house and street being named for the family of Charles Pohlemus). It was sold to Bellarmine in 1946 and moved to Elm and Hedding streets, where it sat until Saturday.

Both moves were done by Kelly Brothers House Moving, which in recent years also trucked Poor House Bistro and Pallesen apartment building to new locations. Howard “King” Kelly, patriarch of Kelly Brothers, was 11 years old and present for the first move — there’s a photograph of him sitting in the cab of a truck with the house behind him. Kelly, now 84, was unable to be at the move Saturday, but his son, John Kelly was there as part of three family generations participating in the job and carried the photo of his 11-year-old dad.

The Polhemus House, later known as Berchmans Hall, is moved to the Bellarmine College Prep campus in San Jose in 1946. The house was moved again on campus on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, to make room for a new academic building. (Photo courtesy of Bellarmine College Prep)
The Polhemus House, later known as Berchmans Hall, is moved to the Bellarmine College Prep campus in San Jose in 1946. The house was moved again on campus on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, to make room for a new academic building. (Photo courtesy of Bellarmine College Prep) 

The house, named after St. John Berchmans, a Jesuit seminarian who died in 1621, served as a dormitory building back when Bellarmine was a boarding school and also as an infirmary. Most recently, it had been the home for more than three decades of Bellarmine Director of Facilities Quirino Arias, who brought up six children there and was present Saturday to watch the move.

When Berchmans Hall is refurbished, it will house the school’s office of admissions and welcome center and in its former place will be the 21-classroom Wade Academic Center, scheduled for completion by Fall 2025. And if Bellarmine needs to ever move it again, no doubt they’ll call Kelly Brothers.

CLUB CHEERS: There was a standing ovation Friday night at the Signia by Hilton hotel for Matthew Van, who was named the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley’s Youth of the Year at a festive gala attended by nearly 400 guests. Van, a Santa Clara High School senior who has been accepted to Cornell University, was selected from three finalists to represent the region in Youth of the Year competitions at the state and national level.

And if Van sounds a bit familiar, it’s not you, it’s him: Van also was last year’s Youth of the Year for Silicon Valley. Van, who has attended the Alviso clubhouse for more than a decade, had to practice public speaking, write essays and work on team-building exercises throughout the four-month program. Spoiler alert: He’s pretty darn good at all of that.



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