Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Main Building (Saint Gertrude Hall)

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Institution Name: College of Saint Benedict
Original/Historic Place Name: Main Building (Saint Gertrude Hall)
Location on Campus: 37 College Ave
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1899southern addition to Saint Cecilia Hall Bergmann, George
1906addition of seven dormers to match the original gable dormers Blix, A. J.
1979southeast addition of semicircular wood and brick entrance Unknown
1989replacement of exterior staircase; renovations (effects of renovations to Saint Teresa Hall) Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone; granite
Walls: brick; wood
Roof: asphalt
ca. 1899residence hall (monastery)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (food service)
ca. 2004-present (2007)administration
ca. 2004-present (2007)classrooms

Significance: architecture, culture, education, engineering, history, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterSt. Benedict's Convent and College Historic District (1989)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Declining membership in the monastic community, coupled with an aging demographic, are facts that cannot be ignored. Current projections based on long-term membership trends indicate that within the next 15 years the community will decrease from 355 to 195, and in 2015 almost 90% of all community members will be at least 70 years old-a key factor since the health care needs of sisters increases dramatically after 70. The sisters' formal role at the College has shifted, with the majority of faculty, staff, and trustee positions now filled by lay men and women. Projections indicate this trend will continue. Beyond the demographics lie financial implications related to income loss, rising expenses, and the need for renovation of living and community space. This decline led to the college's role in utilizing Saint Gertrude Hall for administrative offices, food service, and some classroom and meeting space.

During the 1989 renovation of St. Teresa Hall, there was an addition of an elevator to service all of the floors in both Saint Teresa and Saint Gertrude Hall, a vast improvement since the floors of the two buildings are not of the same grade and previously one had to climb stairs between floors of one hall to reach those of the other. A new entrance was added with a peaked roof that serves as a main entrance to both halls. Also, the round exit staircase was replaced with a modern staircase.

From the National Register report:
The Romanesque Revival style St. Gertrude Hall was added perpendicular to the south wall of the original St. Cecilia Hall in 1899. It is 3 ½ stories high on a raised foundation of coursed, rough-faced granite and is dominated by a slender, four-story rounded corner tower with a conical roof. Double hung windows with granite sills vary slightly on each level of both the south and east wall: the lower floor has segmental arches, flat brick lintels mark the second story, and semicircular arches with pronounced archivolt trim delineate the top story. The tower follows the same fenestration pattern. A band of corbelling above the third floor windows, small wooden modillions, and gable dormers with 1/1 double hung windows highlight each elevation. In 1906 architect A. J. Blix built seven dormers to match the original gable dormers. In 1979 a semicircular wood and brick entrance was attached to the southeast corner.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Blegen, Theodore C. Minnesota: A History of the State. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1975.

Koop, Michael. St. Benedict's Convent and College Historic District [College of Saint Benedict]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1989.

McDonald, Grace. "A Finishing School of the 1880s: Saint Benedict's Academy." Minnesota History 27, no. 2 (1946): 96-106.

McDonald, Grace. "Pioneer Teachers: The Benedictine Sisters at Saint Cloud." Minnesota History 35, no. 6 (June 1957): 263-71.

McDonald, Grace. With Lamps Burning. Saint Joseph, MN: Saint Benedict's Priory Press, 1957.

Mitchell, William B. History of Stearns County Minnesota. Vol. 1. Chicago: H. C. Cooper, Jr. and Co., 1915.

II. Location of other data:
Government Offices

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