by Frances Muraine Bowler Edstrom- College of Saint Teresa Class of 1967
In 1884, the Milwaukee School Sisters of St. Francis bought eleven acres on Winona's west end from Mary Curtis for $5,850. The next year, a new building on the site was dedicated as a boarding academy for girls and named St. Mary's. Three years later, the sisters sold the building and land to Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul, since the school had not been able to support itself. That year, 1888, the building was converted to a hospital, called St. John's, by the sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet of St. Paul.
St. John's hospital did not develop to accommodate much more than a few beds and closed not too much later. In 1894, the Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester bought the building from Bishop Cotter, bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Winona, for $1,000 down and a balance of $29,000. The sisters already owned the Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes in Rochester, and had built St. Mary's Hospital in 1888, also in Rochester. The Winona firm of Maybury and Sons was hired to remodel the facility. During excavation a cave-in occurred in which a young boy was killed. Three workmen, Joseph Schneider, Thomas Stanek and Michael Kulas, were also buried but rescued unharmed.
Sister Leo Tracy, who was to be directoress of the new school, and Sister Dominica Mahl, came to Winona with a horse named Jim, who was valued at $50, and a carriage worth $150. According to records at the Motherhouse in Rochester, Sister Leo had been given $3.53 in cash and Sister Dominica 75 cents to begin their duties at the new Winona Seminary. Six more sisters arrived in July to comprise the staff of the seminary. A seminary differed from a high school primarily in that it placed more emphasis on music, art, elocution and the classics. The first year of classes opened with fifty-nine students who were offered diplomas in three schools "” Literary, the Commercial School and the School of Music.
Room, board and tuition for the first students cost $15 a month. A strict dress code was enforced, forbidding feathers, silks and jewels. Rules of conduct were also strict. According to Sister Bernetta Quinn, "pupils were never allowed to leave the school unaccompanied, shopping had to be done on Saturday morning only, and parents were to send a correspondence list to the directress in September from which no letters might deviate. Visits were stipulated for Thursday afternoons (never any callers on Sunday) and took place in the public parlors, Sister-Chaperones nearby if not present."
In 1902, a new wing was added to the original building, housing a gymnasium, music rooms and a chapel. Hannibal Choate Sr. hired John Thorp, a Chicago landscape artist, to turn the campus behind St. Mary's Hall into a garden. The "south campus," as it was called, was decorated with lawns, walks, flowers, trees, shrubs and a fountain. Also located there were basketball, tennis, croquet and archery courts. In 1905, the last payment was made on the original $29,000 mortgage.
In 1907, Dr. Mary A. Molloy, a graduate of Ohio State University, came to Winona Seminary. Sister Leo, who was intent upon obtaining bachelor's degrees for her teaching staff, had written to Dr. Molloy entreating her to come to Winona to instruct the Sisters. Dr. Molloy had also an offer to go to Ireland to assist Dr. Douglas Hyde, who was then spearheading the movement there to make Gaelic the national language. But she accepted the position in Winona "” on a temporary basis. According to Sister M. Caedmon Homan, in her master's dissertation written in 1956, "All her life Mary Molloy had desired to become a religious, but since she was an only child, her obligations to her parents took precedence. She probably thought, however, that this (the position at Winona) would give her an opportunity to be with the Sisters and share their work...After much discussion with her parents, Mary Molloy finally persuaded them to allow her to give the offer a trial until Christmas."
Four sisters who had done some work towards bachelor's degrees "” two at Harvard and one at the University of Minnesota, worked with Dr. Molloy to complete their degrees. In 1908, Winona Seminary added a year of college work to the regular curriculum, attracting more students to Winona. That year an extension was built on St. Mary's Hall. In 1910, the block across the street to the north, where Bishop Cotter's home stood, was acquired by the school. When the sisters bought the land in 1910 they named the Bishop's former residence Assisi Hall (St. Francis of Assisi is the founder of the Franciscan Order). The home was used as a residence for the class of six college students as well as other students. That building, renamed Cotter Hall, much later housed a novitiate, the art department, and was finally razed.
The Winona Seminary began to outgrow its quarters, and several homes were purchased in the area to house students. In 1911, ground was broken for a building that would front on both Broadway and Seventh Streets. In the wing fronting on Broadway were lecture halls; music rooms were in the wing on Seventh Street. Connecting the two were a gymnasium and an auditorium. Sister Caedman says the auditorium "was considered the most necessary and significant feature of the new structure since it contained a concert stage, best possible acoustics, and space for a pipe organ."
The Teens: A new name
The name "College of Saint Teresa" was first used in the 1913 catalogue, when there was a college class preparing for the last year of study leading to a bachelor's degree. In June of 1914, the College of Saint Teresa held its first commencement of college graduates.
In 1915, Sister Leo Tracy was named general superior of the Rochester Franciscans. In order to attract more students to the new College of Saint Teresa, she set up a network comprised of sisters who taught in Franciscan high schools in the Midwest and several other sisters who traveled specifically to recruit young Catholic women for the college. College enrollment in 1915 was 70. There was still a high school, with an enrollment of 180.
College life in the early years of the twentieth century was vastly different from what it is now. The students lived in houses which the College bought and moved onto the campus. In 1919, the college bought the W.B. Parsons home which they then moved slowly from its previous location on West Fifth Street to its new location on the northwest corner of Vila and Seventh Streets. One of the favorite pastimes of the students was watching the progress of that move. In its new spot the house was named Avila Hall.
The students were closely supervised from early rising to early retiring, their day beginning with morning Mass. Class work was interrupted only at 10:30 and again at 3:00, when the girls gathered in the little theatre in the basement of St. Cecilia Hall to share "wash baskets of hot doughnuts, sweet rolls, or assorted sandwiches which were sent over from the St. Mary's Hall kitchen for lunch." After the evening meal, "to Sister Marcelline's brisk playing the girls enjoyed a half-hour of social dancing in the gymnasium, followed by a rousing march which brought them energetically into the study hall to prepare their lessons for the next day."
Housemates were necessarily close, doing just about everything together. There were, in addition to Avila and Assisi, St. Hilda House, St. Rita House, St. Agnes House, Whitby and Loretto Hall. The girls studied together, went to Mass together, and each night before bedtime would fix a snack, or a "spread" as it was called at CST for many years. Sister Bernetta reports that at Christmas time each house also had its own tree. Houses would almost begin to take on personalities. Sister Emmanuel Collins, an alumna and former dean and vice-president of the college, reported that there was a banner signifying academic excellence that was passed from house to house.
On Saturday morning the girls cleaned house for a weekly inspection. After that they were allowed some free time. "Schuler's ice cream factory was a popular place to get sweets, though Sister Leo's permission had first to be obtained."
Many traditions were begun in those early years. The first yearbook, called the Aldine, was published in 1914, and the words to the Alma Mater, written by Lavinia Costello, then a junior, were printed in that edition. Lavinia was to meet an untimely death a few years later when she was struck by a car in Rochester as she walked to her teaching job. The music for the Alma Mater was written in 1916 by Helen Kirchstein, a conservatory student.
The First World War interrupted many extra-curricular activities at the young college, but the students took part in the war effort, doing volunteer work. According to Sister Bernetta, "In response to Mr. Herbert Hoover's request as food commissioner, three special courses were added to the curriculum: food and the war, fundamentals of food and nutrition, and a laboratory course for the food and nutrition class." In 1917 the cost of room and board was $250.00 and tuition was $100.
The first intercollegiate dance was held in 1919. Sister Bernetta reports: "The first one was held at the Winona Hotel on November 25, for juniors and seniors only. Genevieve Lies (later to be Sister Bernadette) as senior class president with her Teresan assistants engaged in a whirl of preparation, securing an orchestra, sending out invitations, and decorating. The success of the affair, which began with a formal dinner, justified all their efforts. A catastrophe almost occurred when the Marians (men from Saint Mary's College), whose evenings of recreation were as severely restricted as those of the Teresans, were given the choice of attending a church bazaar in Winona or "making history" by going to the intercollegiate dance; rumor had it they were perilously close to electing the former. But the effects of a Teresan delegation to get the St. Mary's authorities to revoke the first possibility proved successful, and the attendance was all that had been hoped for. To the latest Irving Berlin tunes, Teresans and Marians waltzed or fox-trotted until the all-too-early closing hour arrived.
The Twenties: Growth of the college
The Tea House, where the girls gathered between class for snacks, was added to the campus in 1920. In 1922, the academy was closed to make room for more college students. Dr. Mary Molloy, whose three-month trial period had led to a lifetime at the College of Saint Teresa, entered the Sisterhood in 1923, becoming a Franciscan and taking the name Sister Aloysius. Sister Aloysius was Dean of the College then. She had worked from the beginning of her tenure to make the College of Saint Teresa a properly accredited institution, and in 1917, the College of Saint Teresa was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities. It was also accredited by the Association of American Universities and registered with the New York Board of Regents. Dr. Molloy became a member of the North Central's Commission of Institutions of Higher Learning, and served on the Executive Committee of the College and University Department of the NCEA - the first woman to receive the honor. Sister Aloysius Molloy and Mother Leo Tracy had proved to be a winning combination - turning Winona Seminary into the College of Saint Teresa.
In 1923, ground was broken for the chapel and an adjoining residence for the sisters. The chapel, an Italian Romanesque building designed by St. Paul architect C.H. Johnston was completed in September of 1924. Sister Bernetta says, "Into the building of St. Mary's of the Angels has gone all the richness of Mother Leo's and Sister Aloysius's background and natural responsiveness to the principles of beauty in art."
The Academic Department of Commerce and Finance opened in 1928, later called the Business Management Program. Honor societies were also instituted at the College of Saint Teresa that year: the "House of Gold" for seniors and the "Tower of Ivory" for juniors. The twenties and thirties saw enormous growth at the College, in both the physical plant and in the academic programs. Sister Aloysius Molloy was named President of the College in 1928; and the first Bachelor of Arts degree in Nursing was awarded the same year. Enrollment was growing, and in 1927 ground was broken for Lourdes Hall, a residence hall to house between four hundred and five hundred students. It was also designed by Mr. Johnston in the Italianate style.
The Thirties and Forties: Making of traditions
The stock market crash of 1929 made college life more difficult, especially for the faculty "” all salaries were cut by at least one-third. The highest salaries were now $1,800 a year - the lowest $1,000. But the college survived and in 1932 celebrated the silver jubilee of the introduction of college courses.
Margaret Muraine, mother to three subsequent Teresans, including this author, arrived on the Saint Teresa campus in the fall of 1936 from Cherokee, Iowa. "I went there because a teacher of mine had gone there, and I much admired her. She had come to Cherokee to teach at the junior college and also taught a few courses at the high school. When we came to visit the campus, we fell in love with the nuns." The emphasis at the college was definitely on academics, but music and art were not considered serious enough disciplines to offer majors in those fields. According to Margaret, nicknamed "Mugs": "The big majors then were the liberal arts, with elementary and secondary education degrees, commerce, an excellent dietetic program and of course the nursing program was always strong." Of the previous graduates of the college then, sixty percent were teachers, twenty-six had entered professional or vocational work other than teaching, and fourteen percent were homemakers.
But the fond memories of life at CST often center on the traditions, social life and the rules that the students were expected to obey. Mugs says, "We could not leave campus without hats and gloves. If Bessie Friese, the campus chaperone, caught you without hat and gloves, you were subject to campusment. She was a resident of Winona, I think. She would follow the girls around town and walk in and out of all the cafes, stores, (once in a while bars), ‘casing the joints' for Saint Teresa girls because we were restricted to where we could and couldn't go.
"Second Street was absolutely off-limits. We could only go down there if we had to catch a bus at the bus station.
"We were allowed to go to the movies, but we were not allowed to go into any bars or lounges. We were not supposed to go to the Oaks Supper Club unless we were being taken there to dinner by our parents. We couldn't go to Lake Winona and we couldn't go across the river."
It would seem that most of the students' time must have been spent on campus, but even there the rules abounded.
"We weren't allowed out on Saturday night "” ever "” so that was the big ‘spread' night. Parents would send boxes of food, we'd buy food, we'd sneak down and raid the kitchen for the bread that was left over. The college kitchen did all its own baking. They made the most gorgeous raised donuts "” they'd melt in your mouth. Of course everyone got fat as pigs until they wised up in sophomore year and started going out with boys.
"We'd have Tea Dances at the beginning of the year so that Saint Mary's boys and Saint Teresa's girls could get together and meet. If you went on a date you had to have a senior chaperone go along with you, whether she had a date or not. Only certain seniors were allowed to chaperone. So if a freshman had a date, she had to either find a senior who had a date or just take a senior along with her on her date."
Extracurricular activities were well-organized and at many attendance and participation were mandatory. "We had the Night of a Thousand Doughnuts at Christmastime. Then there was the May Queen, the May Pageant, the Maypole Dance. Shakespeare plays were big with us. We started practicing the year before our class was supposed to present the play. You were supposed to have your part memorized over the summer. And of course there was Pledge Day."
St. Michael's Field, which had been the Meadowbrook Golf Club, was an integral part of the campus at that time. The Greek Theatre was located there and was the scene of many Greek plays and May crownings. Each year a tree was planted on the field by the senior class. Dutch elm disease has taken most of those trees, but they were replaced. St. Mike's played another role in the life of this 1940 graduate, though:
"We had a small five or six hole golf course. We used to go out there and sneak smokes, hiding down behind the bunkers or down the banks of the little stream that ran through (Garvin Brook). We'd slide down the banks and smoke down there. It probably looked like Indian smoke signals all over St. Michael's Field." A favorite hangout for students in 1940 who might want to sneak off campus for a Coke was the Bright Spot, which was later the Jackson Street Coffee House. In 1953 it was still popular, along with Jeff's, a soda fountain which was located on Broadway.
The Fifties: Preparing in a post-war world
That year Eileen Whalen came to the College of Saint Teresa from Chicago to major in English. Room and board and tuition cost $800 a year. Sister Camille Bowe had become president of the college in 1952, succeeding Sister Rachel Dady, who had been president from 1946 until 1952. Nursing and education were still the most popular majors. In 1946, the first Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing had been awarded, and the nursing major was now a four-year course instead of the previously required five years. In 1953, a home economics major was instituted at the college.
Eileen, a member of the Golden Jubilee year class of 1957, remembered that not much had changed in the way of social rules when she arrived on campus. "We still had to wear hats, gloves and nylons. It was the long shirt period "” with white bobby socks and big quilted circle skirts." To comply with the hat rule, the girls wore sailor hats "” white "gob" caps with the brim turned down. Eileen speculates that the college administration took one look at the bobby sockers and dropped the hat rule. So now the dress code only demanded that students wear nylons "” yes, even under their bobby socks. And, of course, they could not wear slacks, except for picnics or bluff climbing. A student wearing slacks had to use the back door of Lourdes Hall, which was called the "baggage" entrance, because it was where deliveries were made, and trunks unloaded to be put on the elevator and taken to the upper floors.
Dormitory hours had become quite liberal "” everyone in bed at ten o'clock with lights out. On the weekends seniors could be out until midnight and could also be out until one o'clock one night a month. But Eileen said, "it was hard to find something to do until one o'clock because there was nothing else built up out there. There was no Dairy Queen, no fast foods, no shopping centers!" But there was always St. Mike's Field, for a romantic walk with your boyfriend, weather permitting. The golf course had been abandoned as too costly to maintain, and St. Michael's had become St. "Mike's," but the gates were still locked at a certain hour and many a Saint Mary's boy and Saint Teresa girl found themselves scrambling over the locked gate anticipating the wrath of the housemother. For earlier in the evening, diversions for the Teresan of the fifties included trips to the Bright Spot, Jeffs, and downtown: the Williams Hotel's spaghetti dinners and fudge pie were always popular. The Shakespeare plays and Gilbert and Sullivan productions of earlier years gave way to musicals. In 1957, John Marzocco directed "Oklahoma!"
The Sixties: Baby Boomers and campus growth
The college enrollment continued to grow as the post-World War II baby boom hit college age. In 1959, construction began on the Roger Bacon Science Hall on Broadway between Vila and Gould Streets. In 1962 a new residence hall, Loretto Hall, was built with a capacity of 200 students. I came to CST in the sixties because my mother had been there, not an uncommon practice at the college. But not being a thorough person, I had neglected to read the Blue Book, which laid out all the rules and regulations, before coming on campus my freshman year. You can imagine my shock when at our first "corridor meeting" the resident assistant reminded us that we were to be on campus, in the dormitory, in fact in our rooms, at six-thirty every evening but Friday and Saturday. I felt the walls moving in on me.
The dress code had not changed in any detail for at least ten years, and we set about challenging it immediately. If we had to wear stockings, we made sure they were more runs than stockings. Our skirts were held together with safety pins. We wore cut-off jeans in the dorm and when we were challenged insisted they were our pajamas. We hid in our closets behind our suitcases when we were supposed to be in chapel. Musical theater was still going strong, and CST staged the first college production in the country of "My Fair Lady." Things hadn't changed much since 1936, when, as Mugs Muraine said, "we broke the rules as fast as they could make them."
The Seventies and Eighties: Change
Shortly after our graduation, a dress code became a thing of the past, along with hours. When Kathy Williams (later Turner) came to CST in 1970 to pursue a nursing degree, only freshmen had hours and those were fairly liberal. The days of being bid good-night at ten o'clock and sprinkled with holy water were over. But nursing students spent their last two years of school at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, and the dormitory there still had strict rules. The nurses were kept busy enough to not have time to break many rules.
Kathy remembers that most of the traditions had been passed down to the class of 1974 without much change. Somewhere along the line The Night of a Thousand Doughnuts had become a Night of a Thousand and One Doughnuts. There was no longer a Maypole dance, but the students still dressed in Academic gowns for the Pledge Day celebration. The informal orientation system that had started out with freshmen being called "Little Flowers" and seniors assigned to be their "Sunbeams" had been translated into Little Sis/Big Sis. Freshmen still wore beanies the first few weeks of school - as if they weren't painfully recognizable already.
Maria Hall, a twin residence to Loretto Hall, was built on St. Mike's Field in 1966, requiring the permanent removal of the Greek Theatre. The new library, named for Mary A. Molloy, was built in 1967 and in 1969, Sister Joyce Rowland became president, replacing the beloved team of Sister Camille, president and Sister Emmanuel, dean. New majors, in the areas of speech and dance therapy and other service-oriented fields that became popular in the seventies were instituted.
Dr. Thomas Hamilton was named president of the college in 1980, the first lay president and the first male president. Under his leadership, the business management department became an independent department and a computer science major was initiated. The college also received some national notoriety for a unique approach to curriculum which was begun in 1980, called A Design For Choicemakers.
Jane Didier, who graduated in the spring of 1983 with a major in Elementary Education was a member of the Campus Court, which had evolved from the May Queen's court into a service organization. Now that there were no rules, the students directed their energies toward charitable works. Their "Soupline" program raised money for the needy. According to Jane, "Every Thursday, students signed up to eat just soup and bread, and the cafeteria gave the Campus Court a dollar for each student who ate only soup." The money was donated to organizations like Birthright and One Step At A Time."
But no matter what year a student graduated from the College of Saint Teresa, she enthusiastically echoes Mugs Muraine's summation of the worth of her years there: "I always felt that I had a very good background for whatever field I would go into."
The College, like many other single-sex institutions, felt the effects of feminism and the shifted dedication of less-populated religious orders, such as the Sister of Saint Francis, to broader social service. Attempts were halfheartedly made at a union with Saint Mary's College, but when that school became coeducational, these efforts were moot. With a diminishing enrollment, the difficult decision was made to close the college. Sister Michaea Byron, the college's last president, and the Board of Trustees made the announcement, and the last classes were taught in 1989.
The campus was purchased by the Hiawatha Education Foundation, and since then, individual buildings are owned and occupied by Cotter Schools, Saint Mary's University and Winona State University. Education is still the focus of the campus, although the College of Saint Teresa has been gone for many years.
However, the spirit of the college is carried on by her alumnae, who will gather this week to celebrate the founding of their alma mater with such hope one hundred years ago. The work of the graduates of the college continue to enrich the lives and institutions of the Winona area, and communities like it all over the world.