Madelon Louisa Stockwell Residence Hall

Stockwell Residence Hall

Madelon Stockwell

The building expansion plans of the University gained impetus in September, 1938, when announcement was made of a grant by the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (PWA), making possible a new $1,000,000 dormitory for women. The offer “in the amount of 45 per cent of the cost of the project upon completion …, but not to exceed in any event, the sum of $450,000,” was formally accepted by the Regents on October 18, 1938 (Regent's Proceedings, 1936-39, p. 714). The University’s share was obtained through the sale of revenue bonds, which were retired over a period of years by the net earnings of the dormitory.

The new residence hall, a continuation of the development of housing for women begun eight years earlier in 1930 with the building of Mosher-Jordan Halls, was erected at the corner of North University Avenue and Observatory Street, between Mosher-Jordan Halls and the Women’s Athletic Building. The construction of the building was reported to have been through the efforts of Regents John D. Lynch and Edward C. Shields. The residence forms a rightangle L, with wings extending approximately 250 feet along each of the two streets.

C. William Palmer, of Detroit, was appointed as architect, and Walbridge Aldinger Company, a Detroit firm, was awarded the construction contract in February, 1939.

Madelon Louisa Stockwell Hall, opened in February, 1940, is named in tribute to Mrs. Charles K. Turner, née Madelon Louisa Stockwell (Albion '62, Michigan '72, A.M. hon. '12), the first woman to be admitted to the University. Miss Stockwell came to the University to pursue advanced work in Greek, and Elizabeth Farrand (History of the University of Michigan) says of her, “It is gratifying that the first woman who entered the institution as a student was fitted in every way to satisfy the expectations of the friends of the new movement, and allay the fears of such as had looked upon it with alarm.” Mrs. Turner died June 7, 1924, in Kalamazoo at the age of seventy-nine years. At her death the University received a bequest of $10,000, to be used for the education “of three or more women students.”

The dormitory was five stories in height and constructed of brick with limestone and timber trim. By use of angles and planes in its roof and outer wall construction, monotony was avoided, and a harmonious combination of materials was achieved. Two steeply peaked roof sections in each wing flank the central façade of the main entrance, which faced the exact corner of the two streets at an angle to the two wings. Within the right angle formed by the wings was one of Stockwell Hall's intrinsically unique features — a semicircular section two stories in height in which on the ground or first floor were two dining rooms, each with its own serving room, and the kitchen, laundry, an area for storing luggage, and two corridors of student rooms.

The immense lounge on the second floor directly above the dining area joined the two wings of the building. Through the ample windows of this section, residents dining or enjoying the comforts of the lounge had a fine view of Palmer Field and the city below. The roof over the lounge, enclosed by a parapet wall, provided an excellent place for sunbathing. The second floor also housed the main offices and a corridor of student rooms in each wing. At one end of the lounge was a well-stocked library and at the other end, a recreation room. There was also a sun room in each wing on the first and second floors and at the center of the building on the third, fourth, and fifth floors. Kitchenettes, where the students could prepare light lunches and do their pressing, were also provided. There were two elevators.

The lounge was furnished with blue carpeting and a grand piano and had two large fireplaces. The furniture was of Duncan Phyfe, Chippendale, and Queen Anne periods. The student rooms were furnished with a desk, a desk chair, a desk lamp, a dresser with mirror, and a bed for each occupant. Each room also had one easy chair and a floor lamp.

In 1954 Stockwell Hall provided accommodations for 426 women in single, double, and triple rooms. The completion of half of the fifth floor, which was not provided for in the original plans, increased the capacity, and some single rooms were converted into doubles, and a few double rooms were made into triples. The work was done by the Henry deKoning Company, of Ann Arbor, at an expenditure of $16,912.

At the time of World War II labor shortages made it necessary to close the kitchen in Mosher-Jordan Halls. Because the Stockwell Hall kitchen required less labor to operate, approximately 800 women had their meals served to them, cafeteria style, at Stockwell Hall from September, 1943, until June, 1946.

Ruth Gjelsness (The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, p. 1720)