Montgomery Hall

Tour Stop: #6
Current and Historic Name: Montgomery Hall
Address: 1030 N. Cascade Avenue
Year Completed: 1891
Architectural Style: Tudor Revival
Architect: Walter F. Douglas, Colorado Springs
Designation: National Register
Access Level: Montgomery Hall is a residence and therefore is not open to the public.

Colorado College is co-educational. It keeps step with the progress of the age and offers to women the same educational advantages that the men enjoy. There are able women on her faculty, and her halls and recitation rooms are thronged with young women who are seeking to develop their intellectual, moral, and spiritual forces into that crowning gem of civilization, a womanly woman. -Colorado Collegian, November 1890

Colorado College's first permanent academic building, Cutler Hall, opened in 1880, but the fledgling institution could not supply student meals or housing for several years. Scholars coming from outside Colorado Springs rented rooms and ate in local boardinghouses or private residences. Construction of on-campus housing was an early priority, and the college completed its first residence for men, Hagerman Hall, in 1889. Mary Slocum, wife of President William F. Slocum (1888-1917), believed that a similar building for women was required if the college wanted to become more than just a local school. She led a successful movement to add women's residential facilities, beginning with the construction of Montgomery Hall, now the second-oldest building on campus.

To support campus development, give "physical, intellectual, and spiritual aid" to female students pursuing higher education, and generate goodwill between the town and college, more than 100 local women gathered in Cutler Hall on 20 April 1889 to establish the Woman's Education Society (WES). Completion of a women's residence was the first of numerous campus improvement projects undertaken by the group. The WES, an autonomous community organization led by Mrs. Slocum, financed the $15,000 building through membership fees and fundraising efforts, including bazaars, lectures, and other events. Of particular note was a fair that raised $2,700 by selling Aztec pottery and other artwork, photographs, books, autographs of the famous, foods, flowers, and linens. In addition, WES founder Anna O. Hagerman, whose husband James headed the Colorado Midland Railway, contributed $5,000 toward the construction fund.

This Building
in History:

Each girl has her own room, which is well but plainly furnished. She must make it pretty and cheerful by her own devices, and this she does as every girl knows how to do... The hall girls have the advantage of being in close touch with the real college life; while the town girls count themselves fortunate in being free from wearisome rules.

I shall, however, touch lightly upon a much mooted question of our day, - the chaperone question. For instance the young ladies residing at our dormitories must proceed en masse without escorts to an entertainment of an evening, but the young men may take them home afterwards.

This college differs from most of the far western colleges in its beautiful location, and many students come from the East because of the climate of Colorado.

The WES hired Scottish immigrant Walter F. Douglas, who operated one of the principal architectural firms in Colorado Springs, to design the new "cottage" and emphasized that it desired a dormitory with a home-like atmosphere. The cottage system for college campuses originated at Smith College in Massachusetts, which developed small-scale student accommodations that resembled family homes rather than large institutional structures. The WES worked with Douglas to plan all aspects of the new building, hoping to add other similar women's cottages to the campus in the future.

The dormitory, designed as the WES desired to resemble a stately residence, featured walls constructed of Castle Rock rhyolite, a welcoming porch, large windows, and multiple dormers. The home atmosphere continued on the interior with a large foyer, spacious drawing room with opentile fireplace, substantial dining room, kitchen and pantries, housekeeper's quarters, and a sunny room next to the housekeeper's to be used for those who became ill. The upper two floors contained double and singlerooms, bathrooms, and closets. The WES secured furnishings for the hall, with several people providing furniture for individual rooms in memory of loved ones. The WES named the dormitory "Montgomery" in honor of Mary Slocum's younger sister, Elizabeth Robinson Montgomery, who came to Colorado hoping to restore her health and became a supporter of the drive to erect the hall before her untimely death from consumption. Mrs. Slocum outfitted the infirmary room in honor of her sister.

The college dedicated Montgomery Hall with a housewarming on 13 June 1891.The WES presented the building and its furnishings to the college debt-free. With the knowledge and experience it gained through seeing Montgomery to completion, in 1897 the WES agreed to assist in the planning and design of the second women's hall, Ticknor, and to raise funds for its furnishings. Through the success of what Mary Slocum called "a quiet work," the Woman's Educational Society immeasurably added to the success and stability of the college, and its continued support has resulted in many physical improvements, supplemental programs, and more than $100,000 in aid and scholarships to students.

In the fall of 1891 the college catalog highlighted Montgomery as "a handsome stone building that has been erected during the past year and will afford superior accommodations for young ladies from abroad."Twenty-six women initially resided in the residence "warmed by steam, lighted by electricity, with every desirable convenience."From the time it opened, Montgomery served as the center for women of the college to meet, participate in social events, study, and dine.On Sunday afternoons, lectures on "practical considerations of life and conduct" were offered at the hall.The cost of room, board, and utilities for each student during the first year amounted to $6 per week.In 1897, the college hired Ruth Loomis, a graduate of Vassar, to serve as director of women's housing and first Dean of Women and to provide female students with a dignified and cultured role model. In 1899, Montgomery also became a residence for the female students of Cutler Academy, a college preparatory program that operated on campus until 1914.

In an effort to cut expenses in the mid-1920s, the college closed Montgomery as a women's residence. The building intermittently accommodated classes until a major remodeling in the 1930s.Colorado Springs architect Edward L. Bunts designed plans for a 1937 project that expanded the upper story with accommodations for 21 women, created a large new front porch, added Tudor Revival style influences, and modernized the basic systems.The hall once again became an important component of the campus residential program.In 1938, Montgomery received a new rear sunporch through the generosity of Alice Bemis Taylor. Montgomery became a language house known as"Maison Francaise" for students of French in 1963. Residents of Montgomery studied the customs and culture of France, and French was spoken almost exclusively in the house. In 1990, the dormitory received recognition of its historical and architectural significance through listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Montgomery now provides accommodations for 25 upper-class women.

More Info:

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/17/2020