Filed Under Mood

Mood Hall was twice a female dorm

Mood Hall is remembered as a male dormitory, but it also sometimes housed female students.

On January 8th, 1925, the Ladies Annex on the east side of campus burned to the ground in the middle of the night. With zero casualties or deaths, this event was not fatal, yet still brought fear and uncertainty for the future of the upcoming spring semester. In light of the event, Dean of Women Laura Kuykendall insisted that the female students not return home, and that the community would instead find space for all students to reside on campus while a new building for women was to be constructed.

This resulted in a complete upheaval for both the male Mood Hall residents and the female students for well over a year. During this time, the women lived in Mood Hall, while the men found refuge in local Georgetown family homes, fraternity houses, off-campus apartments, and even old classrooms. At Mood Hall, the transition happened too quickly to make any infrastructural changes, and the juxtaposition between the intensely male-gendered space and the women who resided in it was noted by many at the time. A year later, after the completion of the new Women’s Building in 1926, the ladies of Southwestern returned “home” to their side of campus, returning Mood Hall to men yet again.

This temporary placement of women in an intensely male space did not just happen once, though. Just under two decades later, in 1942, the women of Southwestern returned to Mood Hall again. This time, it was in the face of World War II.

Early on in the war, Southwestern applied to serve as a Navy College Training Unit during the war, in order to compensate for the male students being drafted and taken away from college education. After being accepted, a V-12 unit came to campus, where they would study for three expedited years in order to gain knowledge in mathematics, engineering, and anything else necessary for Naval work.

The V-12 unit had one residency requirement, though: they had to reside in a fireproof building. The newly constructed Women’s Building, built to be fireproof to avoid the fate of its predecessor, was the only building fit for the job on campus, so women returned to Mood one more time.

In comparison to the crisis relocation after the unexpected Ladies Annex fire in 1925, this relocation in 1942 was planned, and thus there was more time to make “proper” arrangements so that Mood was altered in order to accommodate the female students.

Originally built to house 100 to 125 men, the hall contained over 200 women during this time period, making the logistical reality of the stay very tight. In terms of aesthetics, Mood Hall was refitted for the women: the rooms were painted in pastel colors, the bathrooms were tiled in shining white shades, and the carpet was exchanged for hardwood flooring, according to a 1943 edition of the Williamson County Sun. Additionally, the patio, formerly open, was enclosed.

I think it’s interesting to take note of these changes, and important to think about what they reveal about conceptions of gender at the time. These spaces, and the changes they endured, exhibited the gendered divide that actively occurred on campus at the time. Women were more closely surveilled, as evidenced by the enclosing of the patio, among separate happenings at the Women’s Building when not in war.

There are only a few photographs from this time or accounts from women themselves about how life was lived while residing in Mood Hall during these two periods. That is something that may be lost from collective memory. But what we can remember is that Mood Hall, currently called Mood-Bridwell, and undergoing a massive renovation, has actually been transformed more than once to fit the needs of the campus.

Images

Female residents of Mood Hall, 1940s Source: SU Special Collections & Archives Creator: unknown Date: 1940s
Female residents of Mood Hall, 1940s Source: SU Special Collections & Archives Creator: unknown Date: 1940s
Female residents of Mood Hall, 1940s Source: SU Special Collections & Archives Creator: unknown Date: 1940s

Location

Metadata

Teddy Hoffman '24, “Mood Hall was twice a female dorm,” Placing Memory, accessed May 23, 2024, https://placingmemory.southwestern.edu/items/show/81.