Featured Testimonial About Creighton University
The splendor of Creighton’s campus and its design are a result of John’s care and his big heart. Some of my fondest memories of John are his stories: of Ireland and Creighton, and his love for Maureen and their boys. I’m so happy to hear their name is tied to the 24th street project. It’s very fitting.
More than six decades ago, an Irish emigrant arrived at Creighton with an enduring vision: to create a campus in a concrete world.
From 1955-1959, the late John Mulhall, HON’97, developed and meticulously cared for the grounds of the University. He brought to campus life-affirming, natural elements and in his hand, plant-life flourished.
Creighton graduate Mike Leighton, BA’70, met John when Mike joined the Creighton staff in 1972. The two became friends during what Mike calls “John’s second era at Creighton.”
“Long after he left the University as the official groundskeeper, John continued to give his time, talent and gifts to the University, and he was on campus often,” said Mike. “I suspect Maureen supported his undertakings and shared John’s love for Creighton.”
To honor John and Maureen Mulhall, their sons, Creighton graduate Jim, MD’83, Daniel, and Sean, made a gift to the University’s 24th Street Beautification Project.
“The Jesuit Gardens was our father’s favorite place at Creighton. He hoped that one day the rest of the campus would rival its beauty and function-and now it does,” said Jim. “Our family is honored to support the beautification of 24th Street as a fitting tribute to the legacy of John and Maureen Mulhall.”
The reimagining of the 24th Street corridor between Cass and Cuming Streets is significant for its revitalization of the door to North Omaha, for the beauty it’s brought to Creighton’s core and for the greater safety it’s created for the thousands of pedestrians and drivers using the street and crosswalk daily.
“Prior to the renovations, 24th street felt like a line separating campus,” said junior Jaliya Nagahawatte. “Now, it feels like a part of campus, and that we are all connected – no divide. I genuinely believe that the beautification of physical space is what turns college from a learning environment to a living-learning atmosphere.”
In 1957, while John was working full-time at the University, he and Maureen launched their landscaping business out of their garage, hiring college students and firefighters to mow lawns. Maureen worked behind the scenes as the bookkeeper, custodian, and inventory clerk. Together, they grew their business into one of Omaha’s most iconic landscaping and gardening companies.
Today, Sean and Dan are second-generation owners and managers of Mulhall's Nursery. The Mulhall’s sons were among 11 other donors who led the way for the nondescript stretch of 24th Street running through campus to be transformed into an elegant boulevard.
“The splendor of Creighton’s campus and its design are a result of John’s care and his big heart,” said Mike. “Some of my fondest memories of John are his stories: of Ireland and Creighton, and his love for Maureen and their boys. I’m so happy to hear their name is tied to the 24th street project. It’s very fitting.”
The Mulhall’s Omaha legacy began more than 70 years ago after John and Maureen emigrated to the United States. In the 1930s as a young man in Ireland, John worked at a farm and nursery while earning his degree in horticulture at the University College, Dublin.
In 1947, he became the superintendent of the grounds of the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Dublin, where he cared for 82 acres of gardens. As the head groundskeeper, John met Maureen Leyden, who was the cook at the residence. The two fell in love and married.
The Mulhall’s time at the Ambassador’s Residence overlapped with that of Creighton graduate, Francis P. Matthews, BA’10, MA’11, JD’13, HON’51, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. This connection to Omaha led John and Maureen to emigrate to Nebraska, where John worked with the Omaha Parks Department before becoming the groundskeeper of Creighton.
In his own words, in the 1994 summer issue of the Creighton magazine, Window, John stated, “I’m going to create a campus in the concrete world.” Read more in “John Mulhall is responsible for Creighton's campus beauty. Flowers are his business; flowery storytelling is his life.”