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Bertrand Hall was constructed during the Civil War and was originally called the New Academy. The 60,000 sq. ft. structure was built to accommodate the growing Saint Mary's Academy that was founded in 1844 in Bertrand, Michigan and moved in 1855 to its present campus opposite the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. For 40 years it was the main building for Saint Mary's Academy, now Saint Mary's College. It was replaced as such by Collegiate Hall (since 1945 known as Holy Cross Hall) in 1904, which then became the main residential and classroom building on campus.
The vernacular style building with references to the French Gothic was made of yellow bricks from the marl and sand found around the lakes at nearby Notre Dame and fired in the community kiln. The building has five floors. In the European tradition, the main entrance is on the second floor. The entry hall has a tiled floor in an elaborate design, and the mosaic floor of the main floor and corridors is an outstanding example of polychrome inlaid mosaic. Beautiful decorative designs are etched into the glass panels of the inner doors of the entry foyer. The refinement of the ceiling molding at the entrance is unique. There are high ceilings throughout the building, and walnut banisters line the stairs that ascend from the basement to the fifth floor. The fifth floor ceiling is the original stamped tin ceiling and is in very good condition.
In 1865, the addition of the Music Hall wing consisting of 40 rooms added another 16,000 sq. ft. In 1874, a porch was added with an ornate wrought-iron railing down both sides of the steps, thus embellishing the entrance.
It is of historic significance that the salaries which the Sisters of the Holy Cross earned as Navy nurses in the Civil War on the hospital ship Red Rover were used for the first interest payment on the building. Although no longer used as a college building, Bertrand Hall remains the second oldest extant campus building and is the single most important architectural link with the heroic endeavors and dreams of the college founders.