Study Hall and Chemistry Lab

In 1893, the top three floors above the dining room were completed. The second floor was the study hall and library. The study hall was significant in size and very bright, due to the very large windows. A fireplace sat at the back of the study hall and above the mantel was a bas-relief of Alexander the Great, which now hangs in Ambrose Hall.

The study hall held approximately 90 desks. The proctor’s desk sat at the very front, and they would make sure everyone was present, seated, and studying. Beyond the proctor’s desk was the academic library, which had wall-to-wall shelves of non-fiction. The fiction library was in Durkee Mansion.

A staircase ran between the study hall and the academic library with a corridor that went four directions: to the back of the mansion and administrative offices, to the chapel, to the dining room, and to another staircase that went up to the infirmary and the four dormitory floors. This staircase was always busy and congested with students rushing to class, chapel, meals, or other activities. To this day, if one is standing in this spot, the acoustical ring of laughter and the sounds of the girls running up and down the staircase can be imagined.

Adjacent to the study hall was the biology and chemistry labs, which housed the latest in scientific equipment. Kemper Hall taught women the sciences by the turn of the 20th century.

Now the second floor study hall and chemistry lab is used mainly for business meetings, parties, and receptions. The lab retains its old furnishings of the lab table with attached school desks and sinks.

Special thanks to the Kemper Hall Alumnae Association for providing historical information from archived documents, oral histories, interviews, and yearbooks.

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