Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Main Building/Saint Gertrude Hall

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Institution Name: College of Saint Benedict
Original/Historic Place Name: Main Building/Saint Gertrude Hall
Location on Campus: 37 College Ave
Date(s) of Construction:
1899southern addition to Saint Cecilia Hall Bergmann, George
1906addition of seven dormers to match the original gable dormers Blix, A. J.
1979southeast addition of semicircular wood and brick entrance
Designer: George Bergmann; A. J. Blix
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Romanesque revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, engineering, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone, granite
Walls: brick, wood
Roof: asphalt
 
Function:
ca. 1899residence hall (monastery)
1899-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration
 

Narrative:
The Romanesque Revival style St. Gertrude Hall was added perpendicular to the south wall of the original St. Cecilia Hall in 1899. It is 3 ½ stories high on a raised foundation of coursed, rough-faced granite and is dominated by a slender, four-story rounded corner tower with a conical roof. Double hung windows with granite sills vary slightly on each level of both the south and east wall: the lower floor has segmental arches, flat brick lintels mark the second story, and semicircular arches with pronounced archivolt trim delineate the top story. The tower follows the same fenestration pattern. A band of corbelling above the third floor windows, small wooden modillions, and gable dormers with 1/1 double hung windows highlight each elevation. In 1906 architect A. J. Blix built seven dormers to match the original gable dormers. In 1979 a semicircular wood and brick entrance was attached to the southeast corner. (From National Register Report, "St. Benedict's Convent and College Historic District" [1989]).

Declining membership in the monastic community, coupled with an aging demographic, are facts that cannot be ignored. Current projections based on long-term membership trends indicate that within the next 15 years the community will decrease from 355 to 195, and in 2015 almost 90% of all community members will be at least 70 years old a key factor since the health care needs of sisters increases dramatically after 70. The sisters' formal role at the College has shifted, with the majority of faculty, staff, and trustee positions now filled by lay men and women. Projections indicate this trend will continue. Beyond the demographics lie financial implications related to income loss, rising expenses, and the need for renovation of living and community space. This decline led to the college's role in utilizing Saint Gertrude Hall for administrative offices, food service, and some classroom and meeting space.
 

References:

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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