The College of St. Scholastica

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A Century of Saints

The castle on the hill


Tower Hall is an imposing, regal structure. If you have a good set of eyes (or a serviceable substitute, like binoculars) and know where to look, you can see it from Lake Superior. I was out on a fishing boat last summer with a few friends and I looked up at the hill, searching for the iconic landmark, but I couldn't find it. Still, the building is undeniably impressive.

It was built in several stages, the first of which was completed in 1909, and consisted of the westernmost portion of the current building (the lower room numbers). The blue stone that the building is made from is basalt, and came from a small quarry near the present-day football field. The original architects were apparently not up to the task of designing such an impressive building, as the walls and the ceiling were too weak to support the weight of the structure. After consulting with her cousin, Mother Scholastica hired Franklin Ellerbe, co-founder of Ellerbe-Becket, the architectural firm designing the addition to the science center, to complete the building. He reinforced the ceilings, thickened the walls, and completed a structure that would stand the test of time.

After the first wing of Tower was completed, students moved in and Villa Sancta Scholastica, a residential girls' academy and elementary school, was created.The Sisters transplanted partially mature spruce trees to the front of the building  The Villa Sancta Scholastica catalog for 1911-1912 describes the building as such:

Build on an eminence, the Villa commands a magnificent view of Lake Superior and its picturesque harbor; the extensive grounds are partly covered with verdant patches of forest, where the stately pine, the graceful willow, and the spreading maple still stand in native grandeur. A winding brook courses its way through the grounds and some distance below the driveway breaks in wild beauty over a fall of some thirty feet.

I love this description. It evokes the wonderful natural beauty of campus in a way that is completely accurate and strongly compelling. 

For a much more thorough account of Tower's construction, see Sister Margaret Clarke's series in Pathways, the Monastery's newsletter. It ran for four issues, beginning in Fall 2008.


These are great pictures! Thanks for sharing them!

Submitted By: Cathy Klaseus Neve '89 on 02/13/2012 06:22 PM

Thanks Cathy! Glad that you enjoyed them.

Submitted By: Aaron Richner on 02/14/2012 09:41 AM

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