Gridley Hall was the fourth Carleton building. It was built as Ladies Hall in 1882 to house female students. A. M. Radcliff of St. Paul was the architect. It was named after benefactor Eber Gridley in 1890, when he paid off $40,000 of the college's debt.
The three story building was a huge project in the context of Victorian era Northfield. It housed over 100 students as well as offices, a kitchen, a dining room, a hospital department, parlors, and "society roooms." A visiting committee from Grinnell College wrote in 1884 that there were "8 or 10 water closets with numerous bathing rooms" on each floor.
By the time it was torn down to make way for the Music and Drama Center (the Concert Hall and the Arena Theater) in 1967, it was antiquated and unsafe, though charming to some of its residents. Other residences available to women at the time were Nourse, Myers, Evans and French House. The modern Watson Hall was constructed at around the same time to increase available dorm space.
The move to demolish the dorm was hotly debated. Before the demolition began, furniture in the building was auctioned off, including eight-dollar desks and two-dollar chairs. When its cornerstone was unearthed, it was found to contain newspapers and four vials of tree seeds and grain samples.
Effect on Carleton today
- In 1911, the residents of Gridley Hall formed the first student government on campus, the Young Women's Student Government Association, renamed the Women's League in 1928. The first Men's Student Government Association was not formed until 1916.
- A basement gymnasium in the building was the first venue for basketball in Minnesota.
- A Carletonian article alludes to a "Centennial Lingerie Expedition" into Gridley that took place during Fall Term 1966, apparently to the annoyance of then-Assistant to the Dean of Men John Worcester.
- A male "student" once drew a room in Gridley: Joe Fabeetz, in 1991--24 years after the dorm was demolished.
- ↑ Marshall, Betty. "WL Defers Redefinition." The Carletonian. 2 March 1967: Page 1.
- ↑ Franzen, Kirsten. "Carleton Lore: Gridley demolition debated." The Carletonian. 27 October 1995: Page 6.
- ↑ Hilleman, Eric. Carleton College Archives: History: 1891-1916, 21 August 2003.
- ↑ Bell, John. "Worcester Leaves to See the Sea." The Carletonian. 2 February 1967: Page 9.
- Unwritten Rules of Gridley Hall. The Carletonian. January 11, 1906: Page 114.
- Wright Updates Building Progress. The Carletonian. May 18, 1967: Page 12.