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UK Rededicates Patterson Hall, Honors Founding Mothers With New Christenings

Alan Lytle

When it opened in 1904 Patterson Hall on the University of Kentucky campus became the first women’s dormitory at the school.  Today, some 112 years later the state’s flagship university celebrated the renovation of the historic building as well as the many women pioneers who passed through its doors. 

Former UK Board of Trustees member Myra Tobin, who lived in Patterson Hall in the late 50’s, waxed nostalgic about what would now be described as Spartan accommodations for the female residents.

"No microwaves, no refrigerators, no hot plates, no toaster ovens...there was no elevator, there was no bathrooms in the room...we were blessed with a big central bathroom...so with 15 girls we had to schedule our trips to the bathroom and the showers," and Tobin pointed out there was only one telephone in the hallway on each floor.

Deirdre Scaggs, Associate Dean of UK Libraries Special Collections, says Patterson Hall had a meaning  that went far beyond just a place where students lived.

"I imagine the collective footsteps of the women who walked these halls beginning 112 years ago...their laughter, fears, hopes, and memories are part of the mortar holding these bricks intact...the early women leaders on campus advanced the university and contributed to the lives and well-being of the students, particularly the women," Scaggs said.

At the same ceremony UK formally announced the renaming of four north campus residence halls surrounding Patterson Hall to honor founding mothers Frances Jewell, Georgia M. Blazer, Sarah Bennett Holmes and Cleona Belle Matthews Boyd.  Their names were attached to four older buildings  that were torn down to make way for the new residence halls.

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