Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Fall 2016 (August 16, 2016 at 8:00 am)

Emerson Hall Starts New Chapter


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August 5, 2016 at 10:09 am

[F16] Women before Emerson Hall
Students pose in front of Emerson Hall in the 1930s when the residence hall was exclusively for women.
Photo by: Beloit College Archives

As this magazine was headed for the press in early August, contractors were putting finishing touches on the interior of Emerson Hall, which is home this fall to 55 upper-class students living in a mixture of studio, two-bedroom, and one-bedroom apartments. They are the first students to occupy the building since 1977. (The college sold Emerson to a builder/developer in 1980 with an option of reclaiming it after 35 years.)

While Emerson’s renovated interior feels fresh and new, students are still surrounded by reminders of the past, in part through the building’s unusual floor plans and room shapes—several located within turrets looking out onto legacy oak trees. A tactile reminder of the building’s 1897 origins was found in the attic under heaps of insulation during the restoration: sections of the well-preserved, original hand-carved staircase balustrade, which the college plans to repurpose into furniture. Another surprise was the discovery of the original first floor lounge, with the fireplace still intact. That space was initially unrecognizable because it had been converted into apartments.

At the time of this printing, the college was planning to hold a ribbon cutting event for Emerson Hall on August 19 that will formally bring the residence hall back into the campus fold. The event will recognize lead donors James and Nancy Packard, Frances Trout Norgren’53 and Robert Norgren’52, and Barbara Roth’37, whose gifts laid the groundwork for the Emerson restoration.

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