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Williston Hall

It's 10:00.  Do you know where your children are?  If they were girls enrolled at Coe from 1882 to 1918, by 10:00 pm they were locked tight in their dorm rooms, watched over by the eagle eye of the matron in residence.

Williston Hall, the dorm where Coe's female students resided during the school year, was designed to foster strong Christian values, good study skills, and generally well-rounded young women. Williston Hall was named for Williston Jones, the man credited with founding Coe College.  Built in 1882, Williston Hall was the second oldest building on campus, constructed fourteen years after Old Main.  The dormitory had enough space to board 50 girls, two in each of the 25 rooms on three floors.  Costing ten dollars per semester, each room came furnished with one double bed, two pillows, a table, and two wardrobes.  Daily meals were provided in the basement of the building, for both its female residents and the male students who paid for board.  Two dollars and fifty cents per week bought the first meals in a long history of fine Coe cuisine. Although men were allowed to eat meals with the women of Williston Hall, they were not allowed to live at the college.  Until 1921, that privilege was exclusive to women.  On the other hand, all women attending the school were required to live on campus unless they were able to present an adequate reason to live elsewhere.  Living on campus was believed to foster a better community of scholarship. 

The women of Williston were controlled by numerous rules regarding when they were allowed to study, socialize and sleep, all designed to ensure that they did well on their studies. Studying was a serious business.  On week nights, the matron oversaw regular study hours from 7:30 to 9:30.  All girls were required to be in their own rooms studying unless they received advanced permission to study in another room.  The library was off limits for women during week nights, so there was never an excuse to be outside the dormitory past the 7:30 curfew.  The library was only available to them during weekday afternoons and on Saturdays.  The bell for lights out was at 10:00 p.m., and the girls rose again the next morning at 6:00 a.m. for calisthenics and breakfast. Not even weekends were relaxed; the curfew was moved to 10:00 on Friday and Saturday nights, when the girls were permitted to have "gentleman callers." Having callers on the Sabbath was strictly against regulation.  The women were never allowed to be alone in a room with a man, and even if there was another person in the room, physical contact between the man and woman was not allowed.  As one alum put it, it was much more convenient to "accidentally run into your beau on an evening walk," where the rules governing the Hall didn't apply.

In 1918, the role of Williston Hall underwent quite a change.  Because of the First World War and the completion of the first half of the Voorhees Quadrangle, Williston was converted into a barracks for the ROTC.  From that point on, it continued to change purpose almost annually, housing at varying points a gymnasium, a shooting range, and in 1921, the first male residence for the Ed Co's (the students’ clever way for referring to a CoEd's male counterpart).  In October of 1950, the building was demolished in order to make room for Hickok Hall.  With classrooms, dining hall, library and dorm rooms in different locations on campus, the utility of Williston Hall had come to an end.

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Coe College
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