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Abbey-Appleton Hall (RG 112)

This image is a black and white photograph of several female students walking along the path in front of Springfield College's first women's dormitory, Abbey Hall

Abbey Hall

As early as 1934, the college began to recognize the need for a women’s dormitory in order to extend, as they hoped even then, the opportunities offered to men to the women of the college. On April 24th, 1934 Springfield College accepted a gift from Mrs. Emily F. Abbey Gill of funds to erect a women’s dormitory; this was the beginning of the first women’s dormitory on campus. The college continued to increase the number of women enrolled as undergraduate and graduate students, so in 1949 Mrs. Emily F. Abbey Gill donated a further $150,000 to finance the much needed women’s residency. On June 10th, 1950, the college voted to inaugurate a regular undergraduate program for women and on July 20th, 1950 the ground breaking ceremony was held for the new dormitory. Emily F. Abbey Gill served as a member of the college corporation, but died on April 24th, 1950. After her death, the college suggested that the new dormitory be named Abbey Hall in honor of her dream of a women’s program at Springfield. When the corner stone was laid on January 18th 1951, President Limbert called it an “act of faith in the future.” Abbey Hall was ready for occupancy in September 1951 and President Limbert commented on the scene: “the campus has a new look, I refer partly, of course, to the presence of skirts and bobby socks, to young men and young women eating together and sharing laboratory equipment, but our new women’s dormitory emerged from the chrysalis of construction as a building of architectural beauty with an enviable location.” The formal dedication took place on May 9th, 1952, after the building was fully furnished and the interior decoration was completed. Limbert commented that “some visitors insisted that it was the most beautiful women’s dormitory they had ever seen.” Today Abbey Hall is part of Abbey-Appleton Halls, a co-educational dormitory. However, it remains in the center of campus as a symbol of the realization of a dream for women at Springfield College.

Appleton Hall

Only a year after the first women’s dormitory was completed, the college estimated that by 1953 there would be more women than would fit in Abbey Hall. Springfield College was concerned with the safety of their women students and, along with parents, objected to them living in private homes, remote from campus, as was the custom for the men to do. In June of 1953, a proposal was made to build an extension to Abbey Hall. The extension was referred to as West Hall. The final cost of the West Hall was $255,000 and it housed 108 women. The building was completed in March of 1956, but was not dedicated and named Appleton Hall until June 12th, 1965. On this date the building was named after its main benefactor Leirion H. Appleton, who donated to the building’s construction in memory of her husband Edward A. Appleton, former President of the Corporation of Springfield. Mrs. Appleton had remained an anonymous benefactress to Springfield College for over a decade and because of her modesty and desire for anonymity, the building was known only as West Hall until, when in 1965, Mrs. Appleton prevailed to allow the dormitory to be named in honor of her husband.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection documents Springfield College’s first woman’s dormitory, Abbey Hall, and the west-wing addition referred to as West Hall, known today as Abbey-Appleton Hall. The material in the collection consists of general information on the dormitory, photographs of the dormitory’s interior and exterior, photographs of construction at various stages, architect renderings, dedication materials, and newspaper articles related to the dedication of the building and ground breaking ceremonies. Also included are copies of Abbey Hall’s floor plans, more recent slides depicting dormitory life, and an audio CD of the groundbreaking ceremony for Abbey Hall. Of particular note are the photographs of the laying of the cornerstone and information on the dedication of the original Abbey Hall.

There are materials within the collection that speak to the rules and regulations, and the general life of the early years of the residence halls. This includes a binder containing meeting minutes of the Dorm Hall Council from 1955-1956 school through the 1958-1959 school year. The constitution and structure of the Dorm Hall Council are also included. Of particular note is a document that outlines the dress code for all women living at the college. In addition there is a filled Sign Out Card from 1967 that was used to let people know where residences were going.