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Mantor Library, University of Maine Farmington

Dormitory Life, 1940-1950

Sonia Johnson and Barbara Gray in their Purington Hall room, ca. 1954.

By 1940, Farmington State Normal School had two dormitories -- Purington Hall and Mallett Hall -- and all the residents in them were women. The students awoke to the sound of the “rising bell” at 6 a.m. On Monday through Thursday, a “house bell” at 7:25 p.m. warned students they had to be in their own dormitory. Study hour commenced at 7:30 p.m. and “quiet house” began at 9:30 p.m.

Student had to be in their rooms by “room bell” at 9:55 p.m. and settled for the night by the “retiring bell” at 10 p.m. They were expected to remain in their rooms from retiring bell until rising bell. There was a little more freedom on the weekend. Students did not have to to be in the dorm until 9:45 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, although quiet house was observed throughout the day on Sunday.

Students were permitted to have a radio on in their room until 11 p.m., for which they paid a monthly fee of 25 cents. Use of electricity was limited by wattage and the number of lights in use and hours lights could be used were regulated by dormitory policies. Telephone calls from young gentlemen in town, if permitted by the matron, were limited to 3 minutes in duration.

Visitors and Dining

F.S.T.C. students Bill Gildart and Jay Darling outside Purington Hall, 1949.

Students were not allowed to entertain guests in their rooms. With permission of the house matron, gentlemen guests were allowed to visit on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and on week nights after dinner, but had to leave by the study hour bell. Out of town gentlemen visitors had to be approved by the matron and the dean. All visitors were restricted to the common areas of the main floor, such as the lounge, library or outside porch.

Meals prepared in the dormitory kitchen were served in the first floor dining room. The dining rooms had assigned seating for residents during the week, which was set at the beginning of each quarter term. Students could choose their own seats on Friday through Sunday nights. Gentlemen attending the college could pay to eat dinner in the dining room, but were not permitted to linger in the dormitory after the meal.


In addition to matrons who oversaw the general management of the dormitories, there was a House Government consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer, house committee, proctors and house court. The president interpreted house policies and was chosen at the end of each semester. The vice-president assisted and filled in for the president as needed. The secretary-treasurer kept minutes of house meetings and was responsible for any money the house raised.

Betty MacDougall climbing out onto the Purington Hall porch roof, 1948.

The house committee included the matron, house president, and a first and a second year student chosen at the beginning of the semester. The committee planned the social affairs of the house, coordinated the electing of proctors and appointed the house court. Proctors helped enforce the house rules and served as fire captains. The house court handled infringement of house rules, the handing out of “black marks” for misbehavior and imposing restrictions on those who violated the rules.

Even activities outside classes and the dormitory were regulated. Attendance at daily chapel was required and students had to have written permission to go home on the weekends. Students also could not attend dances or other social events that were not organized by the college. Even visiting downtown was limited under school policies.

By the 1950s, there was some loosening of dormitory rules. First year students had to be in the dormitory by 8 p.m. and all others by 10 p.m. Quiet hours started at 8 p.m. and continued to lights out at 10:30 p.m. during the week, but only extended to 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The radio fee increased to 50 cent by the 1950s and there were still limits on number of lights in use in the dorm rooms, although not as stringent.

Sources: The Constitution of the Student-Faculty Cooperative Government of Farmington State Normal School (ca. 1945). Dining Room Etiquette (ca. 1940), Our Daily Living, Social Training Committee, 1943. Purington Hall – House Regulations (ca. 1951). Dormitory Council Polices (ca. 1951)