Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Summer 2015 (July 21, 2015)

Emerson Hall Makes a Triumphant [and Unexpected] Return

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July 13, 2015

Photo by Trevor Johnson’08

One of Beloit’s earliest and best-known buildings is returning to the college thanks in large part to the generosity of two donors. Emerson Hall, built in 1897 as the first college residence for women, will be renovated in the coming year and reopened as a residence hall for around 60 students in the fall of 2016. Plans to put Emerson back online were announced at Beloit’s 2015 Commencement.

Jim and Nancy Packard of Roscoe, Ill., are the lead donors in the renovation project. Their gift allows the college to reacquire the building and begin restoring it for college use. Jim Packard is a longtime trustee of the college.

In 1982, due to flagging enrollment, the college had transferred temporary ownership of Emerson Hall to another entity, which operated it as an apartment building until a September 2013 fire closed it down. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has been unoccupied since the fire. The college reached agreement with Emerson Hall Associates, the temporary property owners, to reacquire the building, which has not housed students since 1977.

“This is a day the college has been dreaming about for more than 35 years,” said College President Scott Bierman. “Through the generosity of these donors, the college has regained its northern anchor, and one of our city’s most beautiful and historic buildings—and just in time too,” he said, referring to the large incoming class of 2019.

The college will begin raising additional funds and working on the building this fall.


  • July 23 2015 at 9:55 am
    John Carroll

    Great to see Emerson Hall back in the fold. My memories as a kid growing up in the 40's and 50's in Beloit were the shaded, sunken tennis courts on the South Lawn of Emerson Hall.

  • July 23 2015 at 11:09 am
    Ellen Phillips Frohnmayer '70

    I lived in Emerson my freshman year, and have happy memories of that building. So glad to hear it's back, and students will live there again!

  • July 23 2015 at 11:21 am
    Gina Dupee Stevenson

    Really pleased and hope to see it one day. Both my mother Jean Vickers Dupee and I lived at Emerson.

  • July 23 2015 at 12:05 pm
    Susan Phillips Fletcher '62

    I lived in the Emerson Annex as a freshman and couldn't have been in a better place. A ready-made small group of friends, plus the wider realm of the rest of Emerson Hall. I'm so happy to see that Emerson will still be going strong!

  • July 23 2015 at 12:08 pm
    Dorothy Akin Jens

    Wonderful! I spent my sophomore year (1942-43) in Emerson (1st floor) with roommate Gloria Beard. 

  • July 23 2015 at 3:15 pm
    Nancy Conant Kratohvil, '54

    May the newest Emerson Hall residents have as glorious a time as I did, back in 1950-51 as a freshman, and again two years later as a junior counselor! Can you younger folks picture a grandmotherly sort of woman as our building "house mother"? All freshmen had that caregiver/chaperone person, a given. She checked that we obeyed lights-out times and mothered those with ailments or problems and generally set the tone of welcoming (and behaving) that made our lives so pleasant. We junior counselors had some of the same responsibilities, only for just one floor each. We lived with the freshmen women under their rules and mentored them while enjoying them as fellow Beloiters. Lots of good friendships and learning happened there, well worth the sacrifice of much of the usual junior experience!

  • July 23 2015 at 4:36 pm
    Ruth Anne Koch Hall, '58
    I lived in Emerson Hall my freshman year in a triple room that had windows where the girls from other rooms climbed out on a porch to sunbathe in the springtime. I loved my freshman year and all the wonderful gals that I met. We had a wonderful junior counselor--Frannie Mason. Our housemother took such good care of us.
  • July 23 2015 at 7:56 pm
    Jan Bartizal Small '62

    I lived in Emerson Hall as a freshman and then again as a junior counselor in Emerson Annex.  I have many happy memories of those years and was so glad to hear that this historic building will thrive again!

  • July 23 2015 at 11:11 pm
    Paul "Pavel" Mikoloski

    My room was the one on the ground floor to the far left in this photo. It had five windows in a rounded turret where I placed my desk. What was amazing to me was the fact that I didn't need to have a room mate (which after prep school was a major plus) and yet I had two rooms - an entry/study room and a separate bedroom. It felt like I was in Oxford England and would brag to guests who came over who only knew the more modern dorms. The other Freshman who were allowed to live in Emerson as Freshmen all seemed to be the independent type - world travelers and people who had interesting life experiences and we were sure to catch Star Trek every evening when we returned from the Dining Hall next door. Wonderful memories. So glad Emerson was not torn down and thank you Jim, Nancy and everyone else who donated for recycling a college institution!

  • July 24 2015 at 10:20 am
    Judy Gishwiller Wagner, class of '62

    My first meal on campus, back in '58, was a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup - in Emerson Hall.  I lived in Aldrich Hall with roommate Beverly Shipka, but have lots of special memories of times shared with friends in Emerson. Very nostalgic!

  • July 30 2015 at 10:59 pm
    Carol Kewley McLean '57

    Hurrah that Emerson Hall is again being a part of Beloit College. I must have been in the same triple as Ruth Anne Koch Hall on the 3rd floor because I have the same memories of girls sunbathing outside our windows. What fun I had sharing the room with Debbie and Karen.....and, oh so many laughs. Memories are the best!

  • August 1 2015 at 8:14 pm
    Barbara Lane Lucier '65

    I really liked living in Emerson my freshman year but I never knew what its history was. It was a double pleasure to visit during my 50th reunion not only to see where my old room was and remember my great first floor friends but also to know the hall was a significant part of entering college for the first women who enrolled at Beloit.

  • August 5 2015 at 7:10 am
    Sandy Weil Rushworth '72
    I lived in Emerson in 1972 and have great memories especially with the "Elmos". Great to see it will be a dorm again!

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