Aurora Hall, left: 1970s-1980s, center: 1976, right: 2007. (click thumbnail for larger image)
The first dormitory to be built was Aurora Hall. It was built in conjunction with Mary Commons. The new dormitory was constructed because of the increase of student applications and enrollment to the College. The buildings were designed by Richard Hammel and Curtis Green, a small architectural team from St. Paul. The estimated $1 million project began in the spring of 1955 and was completed by the school year of 1956. Aurora Hall opened as a three-story building which provided living quarters for 200 students. Single, double and triple rooms were available; the rooms being divided into six wings, A-F, with two on each floor.. Each wing of around 33 students had its own lounge, laundry and bathroom. Each room was equipped with a desk, wardrobe, bookshelves, tack board and bed. Later, a sink and mirror were added to each room.
The name Aurora, meaning "the dawn," is a name of praise for the Virgin Mary. Aurora Hall and the Commons to which it is attached were initially called Mary Hall. The dorm's name was changed to Aurora Hall later, when Regina Hall was added.
Dorm, 1984; Regina Hall Lounge, 1970s-1980s; Regina Hall (exterior), 2007 (click thumbnail for larger image)
The next dormitory to be built was Regina Hall. Much like Aurora, it is three stories high with wings G, H, and J. It was built with mostly double rooms, with a few triple rooms on each floor. The maximum capacity for Regina was 150 students. Each floor had a lounge with a balcony or patio. It too was equipped with all the dormitory necessities: desk, wardrobe, bed, etc. Originally it was meant to house first-years as well as sophomores. The name Regina, meaning "Queen," signifies another title for the Virgin Mary, “the Queen of Heaven.” Regina was completed in 1963.
Corona Hall, 1969, 1981, and 2007 (click thumbnail for larger image)
The last of the first-year dormitories was Corona Hall. By 1968 the College was planning on the new dormitory, but by November of 1968 there was still no start or completion date. This created “an aura of secrecy” regarding the new building. Eventually, on December 19, 1968, the groundbreaking ceremony took place. The estimated $1,085,000 dorm would also be designed by Richard Hammel and Curtis Green, plus their new associate, Bruce Abrahamson. The cost was covered by a government Housing and Urban development loan of $1,085,000, supplemented with $19,000 in college funds. The anticipated completion date was November of 1969, but that date came and went. The girls who were to inhabit the new building were all put on the 3rd floor and a quarter of the second floor while the construction continued. After much toil, Corona Hall was dedicated on December 13, 1969. Bishop George Speltz presided over the ceremony.
The name “Corona” means “crown,” again symbolizing the Blessed Virgin’s reign as the Queen of Heaven.
Corona Hall was built three stories high with wings K,L and M. Each floor had 32 double rooms, with the ability to house 180 students. In addition to all the standard features, Corona was air-conditioned.
All three first-year dormitories are connected to Mary Commons, with Corona connected by a glass walk-way.
Special thanks to Sara Trent '08 for drafting this text.