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Housing at the University of Chicago

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Housing at the University of Chicago

Housing at the University of Chicago includes 12 residence halls that are divided into 38 houses. Each house has an average of 70 students.[1] Freshmen must live on-campus, and housing is guaranteed but not required thereafter.[2] The University operates 28 apartment buildings near campus for graduate students.[3]

Approximately 60% of undergraduates live on campus.

Residence halls

Blackstone Hall

Blackstone Hall, located at 5748 S. Blackstone Avenue, accommodates 79 residents. There is only one college house in Blackstone Hall, called Blackstone House. The main campus quadrangles are approximately a ten-minute walk away. The six-story building contains several lounges, a computer lab, a solarium, a fireplace, and a piano. Students reside in "half-double apartments", in which each pair of single rooms contains a shared kitchenette and bathroom. The average room is sized 12 by 12.5 feet.[4]

Blackstone Hall was designed by architect Ralph D. Huszagh, and construction was completed in 1930.[5] At the end of 1953, the University had purchased the building for use as a nurses' residence. The residents who had lived there for several years were reluctant to leave, but for the University a more pressing matter left them with no alternative. A shortage of nurses had led to a "most critical situation" in the University's expanding medical system, and the University could not acquire the badly needed nurses without additional housing.[6]

The University issued termination notices to all Blackstone residents in March 1954. Remodeling of the entire interior of the building began shortly after the tenants had left.[6] The rooms were initially constructed as hotel rooms, so the University formed apartments by connecting pairs of rooms with shared baths and kitchens. Despite the apparent urgency in Blackstone's transformation into nursing accommodations, by the end of 1954 the University continued to have difficulties with filling vacancies in the building. Blackstone was abandoned as a nurses' residence, since very few nurses had lived there.[7] Despite efforts by the housing office to fill the rooms with students, there were still vacancies for 25 student couples or 50 single women.[6]

The Housing Bureau made the rooms available for immediate occupancy at $70–75 per month ($591–634 per month in 2012 dollars), including all utilities except phone service. Laundry machines were provided in the building's utility room. The rooms were advertised first to married students without children, and no pets were allowed.[6]

In 1962, the building was transformed into a dormitory only for single undergraduate women. In 1966, University officials proposed renovations to reverse the "shabbiness" and deterioration seen in older buildings such as Blackstone. Repairs were needed for broken panes of glass, leaking windows, and cracked paint and plaster. Fundamental renovations were also needed for the electrical and heating systems. Damage caused by the electrical repairs and plastering required complete redecorating of almost the entire building.[7]

Breckinridge Hall

The front of Breckinridge house

Breckinridge Hall is at 1442 East 59th Street. There is only one college house in Breckinridge Hall, called Breckinridge House. It accommodates approximately 95 residents plus two RAs and an RH family. As one of the smaller dormitories on campus, but one of the largest houses, it is home to undergraduates, though it served graduate students in the past. Approximately two-thirds of the rooms are single residence rooms.[8]

In 1898, Ina Law Robertson, an Oregon schoolteacher studying at the University of Chicago, founded "Eleanor Club"[9] to offer affordable housing for employed, single women.[10] The Eleanor Club was very similar to YWCAs.[11][12] Robertson eventually built six residences, with this one being designed by Schmidt, Garden and Martin and opened in 1916.[13] The building was purchased by the University of Chicago in 1968.[10] The proceeds of the sale created an endowment that funds grants for Chicago women and girls in need of financial assistance.[9] The University then named the building after Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge who was the Dean of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, which was the University of Chicago's first graduate school of social work.[13] Breckinridge was also the first woman to graduate from the law school of the University of Chicago.

Broadview Hall

Broadview Hall is at 5540 S. Hyde Park Blvd. and accommodates 200 residents. Originally built as a hotel, as a dormitory it is organized into three "houses": Wick (the 2nd and 3rd floors), Talbot (the 4th and 5th floors), and Palmer (the 6th and 7th floors).[14] Most rooms are single with private baths.[15] Broadview is about a 20-minute walk from the main campus.[16]

Burton–Judson Courts

Wide view of the Burton-Judson Courts

Burton–Judson Courts (BJ) is located at 1005 E. 60th St. and accommodates 313 students. Burton–Judson is one of the few undergraduate residences located south of the Midway Plaisance, it is a castle-like edifice built in a neo-Gothic style similar to that of the University's main quadrangles.[17] It was designed by the Philadelphia firm of Zantzinger, Borie, and Medary.[17] Burton-Judson was the first on-campus residence of eminent astronomer Carl Sagan, who lived in room 141 (See "Carl Sagan, A Life"). Burton-Judson contains six houses: Dodd-Mead, Salisbury, Linn-Mathews, Coulter, Chamberlin, and Vincent.

The Burton–Judson Courts at the University of Chicago

Maclean Hall

Pronounced "muh-klayn," Maclean Hall is located at 5445 S. Ingleside Ave. and accommodates 98 residents (94 in singles, 4 in two doubles), in one house called Maclean House. Although it is part of the university campus, it is located in a different ZIP code (60615) from the rest of campus and is not featured on most campus maps despite being only one block North of the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center. The four-story building, originally built as a parish retirement home, was acquired by the university and renovated in 1991.[18] Maclean Hall features the most common space of any house in the Housing System, including a full commercial kitchen that residents may use, a large central lounge and dining room, a solarium, a basement game room and an assembly room with a 15' projector wall. It is named for Norman Maclean, a University of Chicago professor and author of the novel A River Runs Through It.

Max Palevsky Residential Commons

Max Palevsky Residential Commons East

The Max Palevsky Residential Commons is located at 1101 E. 56th St. and accommodates 712 people. The buildings were designed by Ricardo Legorreta, and opened in 2001. Dining is provided in the Bartlett Commons.[19] Three buildings comprise the Commons, sharing a common basement, while students are assigned to one of eight houses (in-dorm communities) spread amongst the buildings: Alper, Hoover, and May Houses in Max Palevsky East; Flint, Graham, and Woodward Houses in Max Palevsky Central; and Rickert and Wallace Houses in Max Palevsky West. All houses are co-ed, although Hoover maintains single-sex floors.[19]

The buildings' name recognizes alumnus Max Palevsky, who had donated $20 million to the university "to enhance the quality of residential life on campus."[20] Blair Kamin, a Chicago Tribune architectural critic, wrote after their 2002 opening that the buildings "...just [don't] come off."[21] Subsequent architectural criticism has been more favorable, finding that the buildings' layout meets the needs of the modern student body and that their colors and windows echo those of their neighbors.[22]

New Graduate Residence Hall

New Graduate Residence Hall, commonly called New Grad, is located at 1307 East 60th Street. It currently accommodates 200 undergraduates in three houses, Midway House, Henderson House, and Tufts House. Both Henderson and Tufts Houses originally occupied Pierce Hall, but with its closure and demolition in 2013, they migrated to New Grad. New Grad has many fine amenities, including an exercise room, a screening room with a movie projector, study areas and a full kitchen, along with the astounding atrium in the lobby.

Snell–Hitchcock Hall

Snell-Hitchcock Hall is located at 1009 E. 57th St., on the main campus quad, and houses 156 residents in two houses. Formally Amos Jerome Snell Hall and Charles Hitchcock Hall, more commonly known as Snell–Hitchcock or Hitchcock–Snell, was built in 1892 (Snell) and 1901 (Hitchcock). They are the oldest residence halls still in use as such on campus. Snell is built in a collegiate-Gothic style, while Hitchcock is Prairie Style inspired Gothic. The buildings both feature limestone exteriors and fireplaces, hardwood molding and trim.

Snell–Hitchcock is currently known for having a high level of community spirit and involvement, which are best displayed at the annual University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt. Also known as Scav Hunt, it marks the high point of the year for many of the inhabitants of the two dorms; as of 2012, the Snell–Hitchcock team has won 13 of the 26 hunts to date.[23] The dorm is on the northwest corner of the University's Main Quadrangles at the corner of 57th St. and Ellis Avenue. It is connected via emergency exits to Searle Chemistry Laboratory.

Hitchcock was built in 1901, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is built in a collegiate Gothic style, like Snell and most of the University of Chicago's campus, but has many Prairie School elements, such as stone corn husks instead of gargoyles and flat-roofed instead of gabled dormers.

Hitchcock is built in the European "landing" style of dormitory with five stairwells linked through the front cloister and basement, though only the basement is used now to ensure that the building is more secure. The three interior "sections" (Sections II-IV) are each built around a single staircase. Each interior Section consists of two floors of four double-rooms with a fourth floor that has two suites (doubles with a large living room and separate bedroom). Most of the rooms have non-working fireplaces. The first floor houses the apartment for the Resident Masters, a live-in faculty couple. Traditionally, each section has had a women-only and a men-only floor, with the suite floor being either single or mixed-sex depending on the desires of the residents.

South Campus Residence Hall

The South Campus Residence Hall (SCRH) is located in Woodlawn, south of the Midway Plaisance at 6031 S. Ellis Ave. and accommodates 811 residents. Opened in 2009, it is split into two sections, South Campus East and South Campus West, defined by a courtyard for each. The dorm contains eight college houses.[24] South Campus West contains houses Keller, Halperin, Kenwood, and DelGiorno, while South Campus East contains Jannotta, Cathey, Crown, and Wendt. Dining is provided in the recently opened Arley D. Cathey Dining Commons.

Stony Island Hall

Stony Island Hall, known simply as "Stony", is located at 5700 Stony Island Ave. and houses 77 residents, with four residents to an apartment. It was built in 1988 and has four stories. Prior to the 2010-2011 school year it was only available to upperclass students, but presumably due to the record size of the 2010-2011 incoming class, Stony Island accepted First-Year students from the classes of 2014 and 2015. There is only one college house in Stony Island Hall, Stony Island House.[25] Being relatively isolated from the rest of campus, residents of Stony are known to be very close with each other. At the moment, the house has an adorable mascot, the resident heads' pet—a pug named Betty.[26]

Former halls

Pierce Tower

A view of Pierce Tower from Henry Crown Field

Pierce Tower was located at 5514 S. University Ave. and accommodated 250 residents. It stood 10 stories high.[27] All of its houses were co-ed.[28] More formally known as Stanley R. Pierce Hall,[29] it was constructed during the 1950s and completed in 1960 at a cost of $2,400,000.[29][30][31] Its architect was Harry Weese of Harry Weese & Associates.[29] The journal Architectural Record described it as a "major breakthrough on the anti-slab front"; built while Hyde Park was undergoing urban renewal, it was also described as a fortress.[29][32] It was designed to connect to a twin building, which was never built.[29] Stanley R. Pierce, a fullback for the Chicago Maroons who had gone on to a career as a broker, had willed the university $800,000.[31] The money proved somewhat difficult to locate. Pierce had left a variety of clues that led to the discovery of buried gold coins.[32]

In 1970 the Gay Liberation Front sponsored one of the first openly announced same-sex mixers in Chicago at the dormitory.[33]

Pierce contained four residential houses: Tufts House, Henderson, Thompson, and Shorey.[34]

Pierce was dismantled during the second half of 2013.[35] The four current houses have temporarily been moved to other dorms until a new residence hall is built, which may or may not go by the name of Pierce.[36]

Shoreland Hall

The Shoreland is a former hotel that was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It was a residence hall of the University of Chicago as Shoreland Hall but was retired after the 2008-2009 school year.

Woodward Court

Woodward Court was a residential hall on the campus of the University of Chicago. It consisted of six houses—Upper and Lower Flint, Rickert, and Wallace. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen,[37] Woodward was constructed between 1957 and 1958. The dorm was demolished in 2001, replaced by the Charles M. Harper Center of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It was on E. 58th St. between S. Kimbark and S. Woodlawn Avenues, affording residents views of Robie House and Rockefeller Chapel.[38]

Other halls

International House

The International House contains undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Facing the Midway Plaisance, it was created in 1932 as a gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. specifically to foster relationships between students from different countries. It is notable for having housed many famous artists, scientists, and scholars connected with the university, including Langston Hughes and Enrico Fermi. Some 40,000 people have lived there since it first opened its doors.

Undergraduates live in two houses located in the East Tower of International House, Phoenix House and Booth House. In Autumn 2013, Thompson House and Shorey House moved to the West Tower of International House, due to the closing of Pierce Tower, making four undergraduate houses in International House. These College Houses enjoy the unique opportunity to take advantage of the programming and events that take place in International House - while also having the advantage of dedicated House System staff to provide support and guidance to their communities.

An attempt in early 2000 by the University of Chicago administration to close the International House and convert it into a dormitory for the Business School resulted in large student protests and a class-action lawsuit against the university by International House residents. After months of negative media attention and intense public criticism by faculty, alumni, and local activists, the administration finally reversed its decision and allowed the International House to remain open. The International House subsequently embarked on a $30 million renovation project.[39]

International House is colloquially known by students as "I-House." I-House Chicago is a member of International Houses Worldwide.[40]


  1. ^ "College House Profiles". The University of Chicago. Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Housing and Dining". University of Chicago Office of College Admissions. Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  3. ^ "About Graduate Housing". Retrieved July 24, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Blackstone Hall". Office of Undergraduate Student Housing, University of Chicago. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Blackstone Hall". Photographic Archive. University of Chicago. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d University of Chicago. Office of the President. Kimpton Administration. Records, Box 51, Folders 1 and 5, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
  7. ^ a b University of Chicago. Office of the President. Beadle Administration. Records, Box 370, Folder 2, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
  8. ^ Breckinridge Hall
  9. ^ a b "The Eleanor's Women Foundation". Archived from the original on 2001-12-04. Retrieved 2013-12-09.  "Eleanor's Club". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  10. ^ a b Retrieved 2010-03-27.
  11. ^ Jeanne Catherine Lawrence (2000). Chicago's Eleanor Clubs: Housing Working Women in the Early Twentieth Century. Vernacular Architecture Forum.  
  12. ^ Lisa M. Fine (Spring 1986). "Between Two Worlds: Business Women in a Chicago Boarding House 1900-1930". Journal of Social History 19 (3): 511–519.  
  13. ^ a b Retrieved 2010-03-27.
  14. ^ University of Chicago Virtual Dorm Tour: Broadview (Basic Stats)
  15. ^ University of Chicago Virtual Dorm Tour: Broadview (Typical Room)
  16. ^ University of Chicago Virtual Dorm Tour: Broadview (Location)
  17. ^ a b Jay Pridmore, Peter Kiar (2006-02-02). The University of Chicago: an architectural tour. p. 106.  
  18. ^ "Maclean House". Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  19. ^ a b Max Palevsky Residential Commons
  20. ^ "Pledge of $20 million from Max Palevsky to enhance residential life".  
  21. ^ "Chicago 101 - Architecture".  
  22. ^ Jay Pridmore, Peter Kiar (2006). The University of Chicago: an architectural tour.  
  23. ^ "Scav Hunt Results". 
  24. ^ "South Campus Residence Hall". Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  25. ^ "Stony Island Hall". Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Pierce Hall".  
  28. ^ Pierce Tower
  29. ^ a b c d e Alice Sinkevitch,  
  30. ^ University of Chicago Prospective Students Advisory Committee. "University of Chicago Virtual Dorm Tour." Retrieved on 2008-07-29.
  31. ^ a b "Stanley R. Pierce Hall".  
  32. ^ a b Jay Pridmore, Peter Kiar (2006). The University of Chicago: an architectural tour.  
  33. ^ "Hyde Park & Kenwood Issue: Dance for Your Rights".  
  34. ^ University of Chicago Housing & Dining Services. "Profiles - University of Chicago Housing & Dining Services." Retrieved on 2008-07-29.
  35. ^ "Pierce Tower Demolition". University of Chicago - Facilities Services. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  36. ^
  37. ^ Franz Schulze and Kevin Harrington. Chicago's Famous Buildings: Fifth Edition. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  38. ^ The University of Chicago Magazine: December 2001, Campus News
  39. ^ "Reversal of I-House fortunes: Building, programs to stay". The University of Chicago Magazine. June 2000. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  40. ^ "International Houses Worldwide". 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 

External links

  • Official website
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