Inaugural class in Gilbert Hall

I picked up and enjoyed the Summer 2011 issue of Northern Now one more time and saw the picture of Gilbert Hall inside the back cover. The author states in the brief description of the picture that Gilbert Hall “opened in 1951.” To several Northern classmates and myself who graduated in 1956 we started as freshmen in the new Gilbert Hall in September 1952, not 1951. Thanks for the nice picture.

—Paul Nemecek, ’56

Ed.—In response to Mr. Nemecek’s letter, we double-checked with University Archives (our thanks to Joan Metzger, assistant university archivist) and we stand by 1951 as the year students first occupied Gilbert Hall. A couple of entries from both the student newspaper and the yearbook at the time may help explain the discrepancy:

Northern Illinois (campus newspaper): An October 11, 1951, article with the headline “Students Enter Gilbert Hall” states: “On Tuesday, October 2, at 10 a.m., the initial opening of the new men’s dormitory, Gilbert Hall, was made official as students began registration for admittance. Partial completion of one section of the building, the southeastern wing, has provided accommodation for 185 men. A substantial number of rooms will be made available for occupancy in the very near future, according to Dean Hanson.”

1952 Norther yearbook: “Ground for Gilbert Hall was broken on July 21, 1950, and residents began moving into the dormitory during the fall quarter this year*. As various sections of the hall were completed more men moved into Gilbert Hall until the hall was completed.” (*according to the NISTC catalog for 1951/52, the fall quarter began September 10, 1951).

We’d love to hear from any of our readers who can shed additional light on Gilbert’s early days.