What’s up with those years on the Lodges?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The door of Lodge One.

The Lodges began in 1927 as the home for Swarthmore’s sororities: each sorority raised $10,000 for the construction of their lodge, and all the sororities together raised another $60,000 to construct Bond as a meeting space for all Swarthmore women.

Unfortunately for the fund-raisers, a student vote abolished sororities in 1935 on the grounds of discrimination against Jews. Subsequently, Lodges 1-4 were converted into lounges for the women of each class and 5 and 6 into “general activities lodges.”

The 1936 Student Handbook says:

“Four lodges are assigned to the women members of the four classes for social use by individuals or groups in the class. Each class keeps its lodge for four years, and after graduation, uses the lodge as a center for reunions.”

So, for example, the door pictured above was the lodge for the women in the classes of 1935, 1939, 1943, and 1947. It’s unclear when the lounge tradition stopped and the Lodges became student housing, but it was presumably at some point in the 1950s. What we do know is that there were significantly fewer “illegal activities” in process. Why?

In “Regulations governing use of lodges,” we learn that closing hours were 10:15 PM Sunday through Thursday (11 PM for seniors), 11 PM on Friday and 12 AM on Saturday. Men could visit from noon to one and again from 4 to 7:30 PM. At other times they would have to ask the President of the Women’s Student Government Association or the Chairman of Conduct. Women could only go to men’s fraternity lodges for chaperoned functions.

Does that sound early? It gets worse. Check out this “Tip for Freshmen” in the 1936 handbook: “When 7:30 in the evening comes around, be quiet. Other people want to study. So should you.”

Things have certainly changed. If you want to know more about sororities, fraternities, or funny sounds emerging from courtyards, drop us a line at dailygazette [at] swarthmore [dot] edu.

0 thoughts on “What’s up with those years on the Lodges?

  • October 31, 2007 at 9:36 am

    The Lodges were still used for recreational purposes – and as music (practice piano) spaces into the early 70s. I think they were used for student housing starting in the fall of 1973, when the music practice facilities were moved into the new Lang music building.

    Richard S. Wilson ’73

  • October 31, 2007 at 11:33 am

    The upstairs bedrooms in the Lodges were the College’s guest rooms into the 70’s with the lounges downstairs used for a variety of purposes, both social and academic. I remember meetings of the Poetry Club, occasional seminars when faculty members could not use their homes (the almost universal practice until the late 70’s). Using the Lodges for student housing became necessary when enrolment increased, and before Mertz was built.

  • October 31, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    That’s really interesting–I think it’s unfortunate that they ever had to be changed from recreational spaces, something the College is pretty low on right now.


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