Campus Progress: Wahlstrom Hall

A residence hall at Gustavus Adolphus College since 1947 will be no more by the time students return to campus in September 2005. With the completion of the new Southwest Residence Hall this summer, the College will take down Wahlstrom Hall to make way for future residential construction. Crews started the dismantling process in July with asbestos abatement, and the Kasota-stone residence hall was razed in August.

Alumni returning for reunion and commencement festivities in May 2005 were able to take a last tour through the building and participate in a “decommissioning” ceremony held May 28.

In 1946, responding to a surge in enrollment following World War II, Gustavus had broken ground for a new residence hall designed as “sections” of six individual rooms, a small lounge, and a bath accessible by stairways, to accommodate about 200 women. The College had sold bonds to finance the building, which was named Wahlstrom Hall in honor of the school’s early president Matthias Wahlstrom (1881–1904) who had transformed Gustavus from an academy into a degree-granting college. When construction was delayed, the College sought assistance from the government housing administration. To secure government priority and funding, the hall had to be converted into a residence for men, 60 percent of whom had to be veterans. Men began to move into Wahlstrom in March 1947 while workmen were still completing it, and women were assigned to Uhler Hall, which had been the men’s residence, in 1947–48.

During the next year, having fulfilled the government stipulations, the College effected a switch, and the new hall became a women’s residence as originally planned. While built for 200, it had to accommodate nearly twice that many almost immediately—with students doubled in the 8′ x 10′ rooms—and that situation continued into the late 1960s due to consistently high enrollments. The hall became a coed residence by section in the late 1970s.

ExteriorWahlstrom Hall photoWahlstrom Hall photoWahlstrom Hall photo