Saint Benet Hall, 2006 (click thumbnails for larger image)
Building Chronology (1921-1923)
Architect: John T. Comes, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Contractor: Gauger-Korsmo Construction Company, St. Paul, Minnesota
Saint Benet Hall, named for Saint Benedict (founder of Western Monasticism), was constructed in 1921 and was the first building constructed for the exclusive use of students. This five-story brick structure, in a mixture of Spanish and Romanesque architecture, is 142 by 48 feet and cost $150,000. In the original arrangement, the basement and first floor contained recreational facilities (bowling alleys, lounges and handball courts). The second floor featured two study halls and a classroom. The third and fourth floors were divided into spaces for furnished rooms with east and west exposures. The top floor was the dormitory. In 1931, a reading room was added to provide a place to study for the students. A 1937 renovation project saw the basement remodeled (the bowling alleys were removed and the area was turned into student rooms and lounges). In 1987 major renovations were proposed for Saint Benet Hall. Among the list of improvements were adding sound proofing to the rooms, replacing sinks, new closets and bookshelves, increasing natural lighting, and air conditioning. The plans were completed in 1999. Saint Benet Hall is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
An interesting mention of Benet Hall appears in Al Eisele's 1972 book, Almost to the Presidency: A Biography of Two American Politicians, about U.S. Senators Eugene McCarthy (SJU class of 1935) and Hubert Humphrey:
On Saturday nights, when most students went to St. John’s nearby sister school, St. Benedict’s, to visit the “Bennies,” or into the neighboring city of St. Cloud, McCarthy remained in his room studying. “We’d walk down the highway and look back at Benet Hall and all you’d see was a row of four lights – these were the washrooms – and then you’d see a light on the first floor – that was the room of the head prefect, Father Walter – and one on the second floor – that was Gene McCarthy’s,” says Thuente. “And those were the only six lights on in Benet Hall.”
(Published by The Piper Co., Blue Earth, MN, p. 34)