Brady Hall and Dowling Hall.
View of Brady Hall and Dowling Hall, summer 1985.

Tales from the Archives: Dowling and Brady Halls

The St. Thomas campus is busy again this summer with building construction and remodeling. As the finishing touches go into the Dowling Hall and Brady Hall projects, this is a good time to look back on the histories of these buildings.

In the late 1950s, the College of St. Thomas underwent a campus building boom. The new O’Shaughnessy Library was completed in 1959 and the construction of a new student center, Murray Hall, was well underway. The New Men's Residence Hall was the final piece of this ambitious building project. It replaced barracks A and B, two World War II surplus buildings which had housed some of the influx of single male students who enrolled at St. Thomas after the war. When completed in 1959, the building was christened Dowling Hall, in honor of Archbishop Austin Dowling. The residence hall supplied beds for 300 students as well as study and recreation areas.

Artist’s conception of New Men’s Residence Hall, 1959.

Dowling Hall served as a men’s residence hall for the first 20 years of its history. The introduction of coeducation in 1977 caused a need for more residence hall space for women on campus. The decision was made in 1979 to convert the building to a women’s residence. The male students who formerly occupied Dowling Hall were moved into rooms in Ireland Hall and the newly constructed John Paul II Hall.

Construction on a third residence hall on the upper quad began in 1966. Named Brady Hall (in honor of Archbishop William O. Brady), the new building occupied the site of the former St. Thomas Academy Building. It supplied an additional 264 beds for College of St. Thomas students plus a new home for student health services. In the fall of 1972, seminarians from the Saint John Vianney Seminary took up residence in Brady Hall. The seminarians called Brady Hall home until 1983, when they moved into the newly constructed Saint John Vianney Seminary building.

Even with the return of Brady Hall as residence hall for St. Thomas students, there still was a great need for student housing on campus. To combat this issue, the decision was made in 1985 to construct two floors to the top of both Brady Hall and Dowling Hall. The additions made 244 more beds available for resident students.

Construction of the addition to Dowling Hall was largely completed in time for the fall 1985 semester, but residents of Brady Hall continued to deal with construction noise and dust through November. One group of disgruntled Brady Hall residents organized a “shaving strike,” vowing not to shave their beards until the construction was over.

See below for photos of the Brady Hall and Koch Commons remodeling in 2022.

Brady Hall hallway.
Brady Hall bathroom.
Koch Commons remodeling.
Brady Hall room.
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