Norelius (Co-Ed) Hall Posted on November 18th, 2021 by

This post was conceptualized, researched, and written by Ellen Dow ’25, College and Lutheran Church Archives Student Worker.

Norelius Hall sits on the north end of campus. The building was the first on campus to house both male and female students, earning it the nickname “Co-Ed”.

Original outside view of Norelius Hall.

The building was a major expansion for Gustavus. Construction cost the college $1,885,000 in 1966, the equivalent of $15,959,084.88 in today’s money. It also symbolized a modernization of campus. All previous residential halls were restricted to one gender to fit with societal norms at the time. By making Norelius a residency where males and females both lived, the campus was moving in a progressive direction.

It is impossible for one to walk through Co-Ed without noticing the building’s unique set up. Co-Ed is divided into sections, labeled A, C, E, and H. Towers A and C originally housed male residents, while Towers E and H were home to female residents.

Original Norelius Floor Plan

Norelius Hall was unique in other ways. It was the campus’ only residential building to have its own library. This student-operated facility offered residents books in their own living space. Various events were held there, and it served as a study lounge for students seeking a quieter environment.

A description of the Norelius library.

While Norelius was progressive in many ways, it had its limitations. Men and women were separated in almost every way possible. From different laundry rooms to vending machines to trash areas, the divide between genders was evident. Women even had a separate list of rules they had to abide by. They had different curfews and strict guidelines for living in the building, none of which men had.

List of rules for Female Residents.

To enforce curfew and discourage interactions between genders, a metal gate was lowered at night to prevent residents from visiting other sections of the building. Undeterred, students improvised and found ways to connect despite the physical barrier between them.

Students study together despite the gate separating them.

Today, Norelius Hall is home to 372 first year students. While a gate is no longer put down to separate the sections, each section is still assigned to a specific gender. There are community lounges in each area, as well as a large first-floor lobby and second-floor study room.

The first floor lounge of Norelius.

The gender-neutral first year housing program We Are, dedicated one section of the building to residents wishing to live in a safe community free of labels. This recent development again makes Norelius a progressive residence hall.


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