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Allegheny was one of the first U.S colleges open to women, who were first admitted in 1870. Originally, women were charged an extra six dollars to cover the extra costs incurred by the "complexity of their nervous systems." The surcharge was soon dropped, however, and a woman was valedictorian of the Allegheny class of 1875. The admissions of female students also created the need for a suitable women's residence, which led to the construction of Hulings Hall. At the cornerstone ceremony, future muckraker Ida Tarbell (class of 1880) expressed "heart-felt gratitude" for the building, observing wryly that the first co-eds claimed they "were allowed to come to Allegheny College and shall remain, then by and by they will have to prepare a place for us."
Hulings Hall was named for the principal donor Marcus Hulings, a pioneer oil and railroad man from Venango County, Pennsylvania and a Trustee whose son and daughter both attended the College. The original building faced Park Avenue (the western boundary of the campus), but due to renovations Hulings now faces the south side of campus. The residence has been much expanded over the years. An annex (including a gymnasium) was added in 1905 by Charles W. Bolton of Philadelphia, and another expansion was completed in 1920-1921. In 1941 the residence was tripled in size with the addition of Brooks Hall and Walker Hall; Walker Annex was constructed in 1962.
Today, Hulings Hall serves as the southern wing of a residential complex whose central portion, Brooks Hall, dominates the center of campus with its imposing neo-classical pedimented entrance. In the 1941 remodeling, Hulings Hall was balanced by Walker Hall on the north, so that an overall symmetry would be imposed on the buildings.