UB Yesterday: 1952

New Room on Campus

A sample dorm room from 1952

By Rebecca Rudell

A few months before UB opened its inaugural residence halls in February 1953, students got a sneak peek at this sample room on display in the lobby of Norton Hall (now Harriman Hall). Potential residents could check out the modern furnishings, including double desks, twin beds, vanities and built-in closets.

The three dorms—Schoellkopf, MacDonald and Cooke (now Pritchard Hall)—accommodated 149 students each and were built simultaneously at a total cost of $1.5 million. MacDonald Hall was for female students, with walls painted in pastel colors like “orchid” and “maize.” The women’s “Life in a Dorm” booklet proclaimed, “Decorating your room is fun and gives you an opportunity to use your ingenuity.” Young men, who resided in the two other halls, were basically told to keep their spaces presentable, as “rooms are subject to inspection by the residence halls staff at any time.”

“Life in a Dorm” handbook page

“Life in a Dorm” handbooks gave female students rules and tips on cooking, clothing and dating.

In 1953, room and board at UB set students back $325—equivalent to $2,965 today—per semester. (Currently, it costs about double that to live on campus.) Rules were strict: No member of the opposite sex was allowed past the recreation rooms and lobbies, and you couldn’t enter public spaces unless you were fully dressed—no pajamas or slippers! The social perks of living on campus were much the same then as they are now, although today’s Bulls probably don’t put sock hops and jam sessions on their calendars.

Dorm life quickly proved popular. A long waiting list prompted the university to open Michael Hall in 1955 and Tower Hall (now Kimball Tower) in 1957, housing 149 and 440 students respectively. Today, more than 7,000 men and women live in UB residence halls and apartments on the North and South campuses, enjoying amenities—Wi-Fi, fitness centers, award-winning dining—that we imagine the students of the ’50s would have found peachy keen.