Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Main Building/Saint Cecilia Hall

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Institution Name: College of Saint Benedict
Original/Historic Place Name: Saint Cecilia Hall
Location on Campus: College Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1879-1882original construction Steil, Gregory
Designer: Gregory Steil
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Romanesque revival, Victorian (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, engineering, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick, wood
Roof: asphalt
ca. 1882other (convent)
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (meeting space)
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration
ca. 2004-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)private residence (for the monastery)

St. Cecilia Hall opened in 1882 as a combined convent and academy with thirty-six pupils. After the new building was constructed, the number of students attending St. Benedict's increased, and the school established a reputation as a superior institution of higher education for young ladies. Far more than a mere boarding school, St. Benedict's was the only Catholic finishing academy west of St. Paul in the late 1880s, and for this reason it attracted students from the Minnesota, Dakota territory and other Midwestern states, as well as Utah, Idaho, and Canada. The majority of girls were from influential, wealthy families who apparently valued the benefits of a well-rounded education based on Christian principles.

99% of the Main Building is residence for the Monastery, and because of the continuous architectural configuration 1% houses a small portion of the College of Saint Benedict's administrative staff, a classroom, and meeting space. As the Monastery and Main Buildings share a common wall (retaining the private space of the Monastery), renovation of the Main Building occurred within the last two years and is complete.


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.


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