Where did they live?

Students sitting on dorm steps, 1950s

On the steps of their dorm in the '50s

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From 1841 until 1900 there was a dormitory section in the school building. In earlier years some of the teachers also roomed in the school, as the principal always did until the school acquired what is now Alumni House in 1898. In 1900-1901 as part of a renovation of the building it was decided to discontinue the dormitory section in order to use the space for a larger library and more science laboratory area. There had long been students who boarded in rooms in the village, and from 1900 to the late 1940s when some temporary housing was constructed, all students either boarded or were commuter students. (Mabel McCagg Webster, Class of 1922 recalled in an interview in 1991 commuting from Clarkson in a horse and buggy, which were left at a livery stable on State Street where the village hall is now, and from walking to school!) Following is a sampler of student residential and dining practices.

Room and Board circa 1850

Students in this era resided in separate sections in the building, one for ladies and one for gentlemen. The 1850 catalog notes that, "...pupils will be accomodated with well furnished rooms, near those of the Principal and Teachers, and everything needful for their comfort and improvement will be supplied. The annual charge for such students is $112. This charge includes board, ordinary tuition, room rent and furniture, fuel, washing and lights."The fuel means wood for the stoves that were in each room - there was no central heat. As a safety measure, all students were required to have a pail of water in their rooms in event of fire. A fire did in fact occur in 1855, burning the entire structure which was then rebuilt.

Room and Board circa 1900

Students in Normal School lounge, 1930s

The lounge in the Normal School in the 1930s.

1900 was to be the last year of the dormitory system in the school until the late 1940s. At the turn of the century men students all either commuted or lived in rooms in the village. The rooms in the school were solely for women students, and the 1900 catalog observed that, "The young ladies are under the care of a preceptress, and no more restraints are placed upon them than would be expected in any refined home... The expenses are moderate. The charge, where two occupy the same room, is $3.25 per week, covering board, room, light, heat and laundry.

Estimated summary of expenses:

  • Room, board, lights, laundry, 40 weeks @ $3.25, say $130
  • Note-books, pencils, etc., for the year, say............... 10
  • Lectures, concerts, etc.................. 10
  • Total............... $150

Prices for boarding were similar, about $3.25 a week, with of course the "usual restriction" that ladies and gentlemen might not room in the same house. Note that tuition is not mentioned: from 1867, when the Normal School opened, until Fall 1963, there was no tution charge!

Room and Board circa 1950

In the late 1940s dormitory life resumed at Brockport. The ever growing number of students simply outdistanced the supply of rooms in the village, although the boarding house tradition continued well into the 1960s. In this era most men boarded in the village, except for some married and single veterans who lived in a set of temporary buildings located where the parking lot south of Hartwell is now.

West Hall Veteran's Housing, 1954

Veteran's housing, 1954.

Freshman and sophmore women were required to live on campus. A temporary structure, "West Hall," was erected in the late 1940s in the vicinity of the veterans housing. Then the SUNY system was created in 1948, more money became available, and four new dormitories were constructed, Morgan, Thompson, Bramley and Vanderhoof. The first students moved into the new dorms Fall 1951.

Lathrop and old Bramley Hall buildings

Looking across Kenyon Street to the Student Union (now Lathrop) & Bramley Hall (now Neff/Morgan. Bramley is now at the west end of the campus.)

Women students then were expected to limit their socializing to certain hours and to meet a curfew: "In approved houses for women students a reception room should be provided where men callers may be received twice a week. M - F, hours are from 3pm - 10.30pm. Saturday and Sunday, until 11:00pm. The hours for Freshman, Sophmores and Juniors are as follows:

  • Regular hours: 10.30pm.
  • Late Permissions -
  • Weekdays: 12.30pm.
  • Saturdays: 1.30am.

This curfew system for women lasted until 1972 when MacLean Hall, a women's residence hall then, was made the test site for a transition in which the women were given keys, thus ending the curfew system. At the same time open visiting hours were established for the weekends.

Boarding Out

Picture of the class of 1916 from 51 Adams St.

"The Bunch" 51 Adams Street. From Viola Minnamon, Class of 1916.

Students who live in the village today are part of a long tradition dating back to the very early days of the school. How formal a system existed in the 19th century is not clear, but for much of this century up into the 1960s there was a contractual relationship between the school and local residents who wished to rent rooms to students. There was a "rooming contract" which was signed by the student and the landlord, a copy of which was on file at the college, and the Dean of Students would and did arbitrate where there were complaints by either student or landlord.

Stage XVI, 1973 - 1990

Stage XVI dorm

Stage XVI in its prime, Spring 1980.

This student apartment complex stood on the same side of New Campus Drive, west of Drake and Allen. The 1976 BSG student handbook noted that the complex provided apartment living for almost 1000 residents. The apartments were furnished, mostly 2 bedrooms, 2 people to a bedroom, with a dining/living area and kitchenette. The fee in 1976 was $420 a semester. It was unfortunately an ill-fated structure from the start. The drainage was poor and flooding was a problem, but worst of all, the unique metal siding rusted through to where the structural integrity of the complex was completely compromised. The structure had to be torn down and where the building stood there is nothing but fields now.

Last Updated 2/6/18

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