St. Thomas Hall: left photo undated; right photo 2006 (click thumbnails for larger images)
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Architect: Marcel Breuer & Associates, New York
Contractor: Electric Motor Service and Weidner Plumbing and Heating Co.
Dates: 1959, 1979
In the mid 1940s, St. John's University had difficulty meeting the housing needs for all of the students who wanted to live on campus. St. Mary Hall, completed in 1951, offered a temporary solution, but as the college enrollment rose, local facilities were once again taxed, and more than a hundred students were forced to live off campus.
To solve this housing crisis, St. John's University constructed its third dormitory: St. Thomas Aquinas Hall. Ground was broken on March 29, 1958, and the Maurice Mandel Co., Minneapolis, completed construction of the building on June 29, 1959. The Electric Motor Service and Weidner Plumbing and Heating Co. were sub-contractors for the construction. St. Thomas Hall was blessed and dedicated on August 8, 1959.
The residence hall was financed by a $1,350,000 loan from the Federal Housing and Home Agency. Most of the loan was repaid through rental fees charged to students for the following 38 years. The per-student construction cost of St. Thomas Hall was $3,292, which was below the $4,000 average for midwest colleges at the time.
St. John's brothers and laymen of the Abbey carpenter shop made contributions to St. Thomas Hall's dormitories by making the desks and bookcases in each double room. Other interior furnishings of rooms and lounges cost $80,000.