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.
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.
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.
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.