Friday, May 23, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Life and Times of Wellington Hall

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.





This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is the college dorm complete with pennants.  Here is a “new and improved” version of a post I did in June 2012 featuring dorm life at Harrisonburg Teacher’s College in 1924 (now James Madison University – Go DUKES!).


Most college students will agree that the first year dorm experience generates the strongest memories about leaving home and living on campus.  My grandaunt Velma Davis (later Woodring) was going to college in an exciting time.  The young president Samuel P. Duke had been on the job for just a few years, and he was building new classrooms and dorms as fast as he could find the money.  When faced with a housing crisis, he sought additional funds for more dorms but was denied.  However, Mr. Duke was a clever man.  He convinced a doctor in town to build an apartment building so that HTC could rent the entire place to house over 60 students.  And so Wellington Hall came to be home for Velma in 1924-25.

Wellington Hall Harrisonburg Teachers College 1924
Wellington Hall
South Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia 1924
Wellington was located on South Main Street across from campus. 

Velma Davis March 1925
Velma appears to be reading
someone's scrapbook.
Dorm life in the 1920s
Quiet hours were from 7:00-10:00 on weekday nights and 2:00-4:00 on Sunday afternoons.

It was "Lights out" at 10:30 each night.  As a result many girls studied by flashlight under their covers or in the bathroom.

Visiting during study hours required permission from the House chairman.

Leta LeVow 1924-25
Leta LeVow
dressed in her "unmentionables"
doing the unmentionable -- smoking!














No smoking PERIOD – not on campus, not when away for the weekend, not when traveling to and from campus.  (I wonder how they monitored that!)

Students had to be ON campus by 6:00 p.m. every day.

Students had to wear hats if they went into the business section of town.

Leta LeVow March 1925
Leta got the top bunk.
Three girls shared a room.





If walking a mile from campus, students had to be in groups of 3 or more.

There was no riding in an automobile except with parents, a faculty member, or a woman.

Students could not leave campus on Sunday except to go to church.



Velma Davis March 1925
Velma captioned this photo:
In old room 17
Wellington Hall









Dates were received in the reception room of Alumnae Hall.

Men had to be on an approved list to date HTC girls.






In 1947, the college finally purchased Wellington Hall.  Over the years it served as a dorm, as faculty housing, and finally as administrative offices.  In the 1970s, “house mothers” were no longer required in dormitories, so Wellington Hall became the retirement home of the last of those elderly mother-figures who scrutinized the gentlemen callers and offered a sympathetic ear to homesick freshmen.  Then in 2006, after 82 years of service, Wellington was razed to make room for the new performing arts building.


Wave your pennant!  Ray Rah Sepia Saturday!



© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

30 comments:

  1. Pretty strict rules. Love the photo of the 'unmentionables.'

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    1. That had to have been rather scandalous -- somebody had to develop that picture!

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  2. I bet rules like these do not exist today.

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  3. I just knew you could rock the world of college days! Velma is by all means, one happy girl. Great fun post indeed!

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  4. Some sort of similar rules applied when my daughter lived in a dorm on the campus of Fresno State University, but 'policing' of those rules was rather lax. Suz often found herself trying to study out in the hallway b/c her roommate had a boyfriend who 'visited' frequently. She tried to complain about it, but to no avail. So the following year she moved into an apt. with friends. Her dorm experience at UMASS, however, was a good one.

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    1. Don't even get me started about those boyfriend visits. My daughter had the same experience with a roommate and "live-in" who wasn't even a student! That bum was getting a free room while my daughter couldn't even change her clothes. Long story short, my daughter was assigned to a new room -- but it didn't seem right that my daughter had to move when it was the other party in violation of the school's rules

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  5. We have several old apartment buildings here in Asheville that are identical to Wellington Hall. They would be far too small for the stuff modern students bring to college. I did not have an idea for this week's theme until yesterday when I remembered your great stories of Velma's teachers college and connected it to my postcards of the Iowa State Normal School.

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    1. We have some old apartment buildings in Portsmouth and Norfolk that look much like this too.
      I don't believe for a minute you didn't have an idea for this week's prompt! But thanks for the compliment.

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  6. They both look like they were having fun.
    I wonder what the men had to be / do to get on the 'approved' list.

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    1. Good question -- I guess they had to go to church and have a job or be a student.

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  7. They still had a lot of rules when I was in college. The summer school I attended one year was worse--they wouldn't let women out of dorm without a dress.

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    1. I had rules too, but my mother thought the rules looked like "not rules" compared to the ones she had as a college student.

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  8. Velma and Leta took some very good photos of life in their dorm. Would that more ancestors would do that!

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    1. I have very few photos of interiors -- I wonder if the lighting was just good or if Velma had a flash.

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  9. Things that would not happen in college dorms now. Although, things wouldn't be all that different for the students, ie homesickness.

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    1. Yes, can you imagine telling a student she had to wear a hat to go somewhere??

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  10. Leta was a rebel to admire. I wouldn't have been game.

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  11. Perfect college photos. I hope Velma wasn't led astray too much by her friend Leta, who cleared enjoyed flaunting those strict rules!

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    1. I think the two of them had a pretty good time, judging by all the photos. I doubt either one was really "too" bad.

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  12. A fascinating,ng account of dorm rule sin the 1920's and how great to have the photograph as well. The nearest I came to this exp[experience was staying in a YWCA hostel in Cambridge, Mass. when I worked for a year in the USA - though I did have a room to myself.

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    1. I imagine the hostel was rather sparse too.

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  13. Some of those "rules" were protective I'm sure but there were still too many and some too silly.

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    1. Yes, silly rules for sure. I imagine many rules just had to be eliminated because they were too hard to enforce -- like no smoking at home on the weekends.

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  14. What a beautiful building! And look at those beds. And bunk beds from way back when too.

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    1. Yeah, those beds don't look too comfy, do they?

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  15. Wonderful match to the prompt image - right down to the pennants!

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    1. I was hoping to study those pennants but didn't. I wonder if they were significant to Leta and Velma. Surely they must have been.

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