East Hall Turns 100

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Budget constraints and arguments with the architects delayed construction, slated for completion in 1908. Finally the contract for construction of a granite dormitory of late Georgian style to complement the three existing buildings on the Quad was awarded to R.A. Sherman of Westerly. His winning bid was $36,877. The original plans were modified when students complained about the smallness of the rooms, which were intended to hold two or three residents. The changes increased the cost of construction by $2000 and decreased the number of students the building could house—in much larger rooms—to 63.

Professors from the Physics Department pose for  the 100th anniversary of East Hall.

Professors from the Physics Department pose for the 100th anniversary of East Hall.

The last minute changes meant that the building, now named East Hall for its location on the northeast corner of the Quad, was not completed when students moved in for the start of the fall semester on September 14, 1909: “When the students reported only one stairway was ready for use, and the plumbing was not operating,” Herman Eschenbacher wrote in his book, The University of Rhode Island: A History of Land-grant Education in Rhode Island. “Students performed their ablutions in a rain-barrel strategically placed on the lawn outside the building.”

The 100th anniversary of the official opening of East Hall on October 15, 1909, was celebrated on October 15, 2009, when members of the Physics Department, now housed in the building, gathered on the steps of the main door for a photo op. Much has changed over the last 100 years, but East Hall, the rain-barrel long gone, remains an attractive part of the URI Quad.