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Posted on Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 5:48 p.m.

University of Michigan's former all-female Stockwell Hall re-opens as hi-tech co-ed dorm

By Juliana Keeping


Things were different in 1940, year June Bennett moved into the University of Michigan's Madelon Louisa Stockwell Hall.

Wi-fi? Co-ed halls? iPhones? Not quite, though the Ann Arbor resident does have one of the latter today.

And today, Bennett, an original resident who moved to Stockwell Hall the year it was built, returned for another grand opening.

The former all-female Stockwell re-opened last week as a co-ed residential hall, complete with a year-long, $39.6 million makeover. Today, members of the public were invited to a ceremony to mark the occasion.

The building's new centerpiece is an airy rotunda created from the former dining rooms and kitchen, a space now stocked with comfy couches and flanked by high-tech community rooms loaded with shiny Macs. Students now enjoy refurbished single rooms, improved bathrooms, air conditioning and wireless access, among many other improvements.

"I think it's lovely, just lovely, beautifully done," Bennett said of the renovations. "It's very inviting."

Sitting on a plush sofa in the spruced up grand lounge, Bennett explained that the year Stockwell was built, the university had a small journalism school and she was a journalism major. No men were allowed in her dormitory, and the next year, very few men would be on campus at all. Most of them would be called to war. Then she joined the war effort, completing officer training through a United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School, moving to Washington D.C. and using her degree in journalism to work for the Navy magazine.

Today, men and women now live on the same floors in the former all-girls residence named after the university's first admitted female, and there are no freshmen; only sophomores and above.

Asked about the switch to co-ed, Bennett was polite: "It sounds very sociable and nice, but I don't know that I'd want to walk around in my bathrobe with a fellow down the hall. I understand it's the new way of doing things."

Also attending the ceremony was Nick Perlongo, one of the residential hall's first male residents. Perlongo, an earth system science and engineering junior, moved in early as a volunteer to help his neighbors Sept. 2 through 4. "It's awesome," he said. "I love it here."

Click here for more information about the renovation of Stockwell Hall.