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The Residence Halls

Photo courtesy of John Knox, RC Alumnus, 1970s

East Quad is divided into the “O” constructed in 1939 and the “H” constructed in 1947. The halls in the “O” - Burke Aaron Hinsdale House, Charles Ezra Greene House, Moses Coit Tyler House, and Albert Benjamin Prescott House – were named for noted professors in the University’s history. The original design had these halls all as separate units – all only accessible through the courtyard.

The “H” was constructed in 1947 to provide more housing for GI Bill veterans returning to college after the war. The new construction resulted in the creation of four new halls in the building - Charles Horton Cooley House, Henry Clay Anderson House, Joseph Ralston Hayden House, and Louis Abraham Strauss House.

In the 1940’s the residence halls (especially East Quad) were described as “the best place to live for the serious student. In most ways it is more convenient, quieter, and offers more companionship than any other way of going to school” by a student on the Hinsdale House Hall Council. Each Hall Council organized social activities, outings, monthly newspapers, study lounges and lectures for their hall and the university at large – the dorms functioned as a center of student life on campus. A constant problem for students was the balance between the various social activities being offered and their studies. The purchasing of a television in 1950, the first in East Quad, brought up many issues of students procrastinating, failing classes, and disturbing the quiet when yelling at the screen.

In its inception, the original plan was to house the new Residential College on a 50-acre stretch of land north of the Huron River, near where Mitchell Field currently sits. In 1967, those plans were delayed – indefinitely as it turned out – and the RC moved into Tyler and Prescott halls - making East Quad the RC’s home for the past 46 years and counting.  

And East Quad has been in the RC - the halls and hallways of East Quad have provided non-conventional hang out spaces for RC students:

So many nights sitting in the hallway, legs stretched across the half way point so that walkers had to dodge between feet and calves coming from both sides.  Doing homework, smoking cigarettes all evening long because my roommate hated smoke and went to bed at 9, and others of us just wanted to be there.  Much camaraderie, not sure how much studying but I did do well in the end.  We had a cat, adopted from somewhere, she would go into heat and make the room even smaller. She disappeared over Christmas holidays but I am sure it was her that had taken up residence in the window of Border’s books.  We always traveled in clumps, to study, to eat, to do whatever, always a group, except for those moments of great intellectual breakthroughs when the world seem so clear.  But then I couldn’t choose a major, had to spin the wheel of choice that someone had put in the hallway downstairs.  And of course it spun to what I was condemned to be, a Poli Sci major bound for good works and governments.  Our dorm head (hall head?) was a Human Rights Party member, got us all involved in local politics and the leftover hopes from the 60’s.  And marched against US involvement in El Salvador, too late for Chile.  They lost the election but made a point.  Was that Hinsdale?  Not sure, the next year I had a single, painted a depressing sky blue, a Fall when I could not get out of bed before 10 and had to chose classes based on timing.  Years later some doctor told me I had had mono, and that then explained it all for that miserable Fall.  But out of that year I made friends and those friends are still mine today.  

-- Rebecca Black (Thutch, Theta, Noidles)
Class of ‘77

When I joined the RC community as a freshman in the fall of 1973, I moved onto the 3rd floor of Hinsdale house, at the time the uppermost floor.  Somehow or other, a group of us decided to take advantage of the obscure layout of the halls and staircases of East Quad. Over a break, or was it a weekend or maybe even the duration of a few all-nighters, the hallmates carefully scraped off the painted 3's from all the doors of the hall and the graphic artist of the group carefully replaced them with 4's. Thus we elevated the rooms from the 3rd floor to the 4th floor.  To get from 4th floor Hinsdale to 3rd floor Greene, you only needed to descend the half-staircase at the end of the hall.  However, to get from 4th floor Hinsdale to 3rd floor Hinsdale was another matter altogether.  We explained to lost souls seeking directions, that the nearby staircases only stopped at the even numbered floors.  There was a staircase somewhere at the other end of the building that came up to 3rd floor Hinsdale.  What a bunch of merry pranksters, eh? To commemorate the event, we had t-shirts made (image below).  Somehow my t-shirt shrank considerably and no longer fits.

East Quad's painted door numbers have since been replaced by brass plates.  Were we responsible?

 -- Mark Levine, Class of ‘77

The EQ renovation preserved the original halls, while making the building as a whole easier to navigate. The new plans separate public and residential spaces – making it both secure for the residents and open for non-resident students, faculty and community members to connect to the EQ in various ways.