The CENTRAL COURTYARD or cloister is planted with trees and grass, while in its center is an antique ornament from Italy (gift of Countess Estelle Doheny) - a carved well-head encircled by a series of Ionic shafts, the whole of white marble. On the four sides of this area are successions of twin columns terminating with carved capitals from which spring ogival arches. Along the eastern edge of the cloister are classrooms. The side to the south is formed by the seminary Chapel and entrance to the refectory or dining hall. To the west are administrative offices and the Salon, a meeting room. On the northern side is a large meeting room called the Prayer Hall as well as the rector’s office.
Two dormitory wings named for Saint Mary and St. Joseph run at right angles from each end of the Prayer Hall toward the north. A third dormitory named for St. Thomas Aquinas and a faculty corridor complete the living space for the students and resident faculty.
Upon entering the seminary grounds, a visitor will immediately see the RECREATION GROUNDS, Here will be noted the swimming pool, weight room, basketball courts, the baseball diamond, football and soccer field, handball, tennis and volleyball courts.
Except at the entrance and at the sanctuary, where the end walls carry some elaborate decoration in relief, the SEMINARY CHAPEL interior is structurally simple. The walls rise smooth to the roof, where trusses bridge the single span. There are only the choir and sanctuary. The crosses and candle brackets on the wall attest the fact that the Chapel is consecrated. In the Altar is enshrined a relic of St. Vibiana, principal patroness of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and titular patroness of the Cathedral. Stenciled work on the walls of the chapel were created to give the impression of being in a tent such as was built to hold the Ark of the Covenant.
At the top, the trusses provide a rich painted decoration. The ceiling unifies everything; it responds to, and is enhanced by the color streaming from the windows; it harmonizes with the Stations, the dado, and with the stone, gold and mosaics of the sanctuary. The beautiful windows depict saints who are patrons of seminary formation, priests and the Church in Southern California.
The Theology Library is a three-story structure of reinforced concrete in the Spanish-Colonial style, at the north end of the campus, the main facade facing south toward the Seminary and overlooking a long garden patterned after the garden laid out by Mr. Doheny at his Chester Place residence. The architect chosen to plan this building was Wallace Neff. The famous baptistry of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City is the inspiration for the Memorial Library. The main entrance motif, with its magnificent arch of carved stone, is derived from the Cathedral. In a niche over the entrance is a statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Along each side, a loggia runs the width of the building.
Each dormitory building has a lounge on its second floor. It provides a living space where seminarians can watch television, have coffee, or to be used as a place to simply relax, hang out and have meetings.
The large Prayer Hall is the site for community meetings, conferences and public lectures. Portraits on the walls include Archbishop Cantwell who built St. John's Seminary, Cardinal McIntyre and Cardinal Manning, all Archbishops of Los Angeles. The large porch of the Prayer Hall which look north over formal gardens and the theology library was the site for the ceremony for the dedication of the Edward Laurence Doheny Library and St. John’s Chapel on October 8, 1940.
The Rec Hall is a place where seminarians go to unwind, relax, and enjoy their free time from class, duties and obligations. They can watch a game on the big screen TV, play some foosball, pool or ping pong, bring out some board games, or just hang out to chat. The Rec Hall is the center for community activities that are so important in communal life.
The main refectory accommodates the entire seminary community. Over the main entrance will be seen a crucifix, formerly used in the R.K.O. studios in Hollywood. The adjacent kitchen is arranged to serve the dining room from the center of one side so that the distance to the farthest ends of the room is reduced to a minimum. Refectory, kitchen and boiler-stack are situated on the eastern side of the composite building group, permitting the prevailing westerly winds to carry away the cooking odors and chimney smoke.