NDNU Announces Ralston Hall Mansion Endowment
Belmont, CA, January 18, 2008 — The first endowed gift to preserve NDNU’s historic
Ralston Hall Mansion has appropriately been made in memory of longtime University
friend, Eleanor Heinen.
“The Eleanor Heinen Endowed Fund for the Preservation of Ralston Hall Mansion,” will
provide $40,000 in endowment funds needed to repair and improve the 139-year-old
mansion. A reception for Heinen and the creation of the endowment, generously
established by her family, was held January 13 at Ralston Hall Mansion.
Heinen, served from 1965 to 1980 as the administrative assistant to the 15th President
of the University, Sister Catherine Julie Cunningham. It was under Sr. Cunningham’s
guidance that the work of restoring the historic portions of the house truly began. In
1966, with Eleanor’s assistance, Sr. Cunningham applied for national recognition. Two
years later, when the University celebrated the centennial of its charter, Ralston Hall
Mansion was also celebrated as a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the
Interior. Heinen was said to have dressed in period attire, and sat in a horse-drawn
carriage outside the mansion in celebration. In 1972, the 50th anniversary of the Sisters’
purchase of the estate, Ralston Hall Mansion was officially designated a California
Registered Historical Landmark.
“Anyone working at the University, during the time that Eleanor was here, remembers her
gracious personality and her love for Ralston Hall,” said Sister Roseanne Murphy,
NDNU’s Director of Planned Giving. “There are so many touches in the mansion that
remind us of Eleanor. We still miss her.”
Dr. Mary Ellen Boyling, NDNU Professor Emerita, also wrote of her great affection for
Heinen. “Whenever, I have had the good fortune to act as a docent, visitors will usually
ask whether there are ghosts in Ralston Hall Mansion. I must confess, I have never seen
a ghost, but, over the years, I have become convinced that benign spirits do indeed linger
here and I believe that these are individuals who have lived here or worked or celebrated
in Ralston Hall and loved the place. Certainly Eleanor Heinen may be counted among
those benign spirits who never leave.”
For more information regarding the “Eleanor Heinen Endowed Fund for the Preservation
of Ralston Hall Mansion,” call Sister Roseanne Murphy, NDNU’s Director of Planned
Giving at (650) 508-3551.