My grandmother was one of the first groups of women to live in Collins Hall, my mom lived and met some of her best college friends there, and I visited my sister in her fourth floor Collins room her freshman year. I moved into Room 154 of Collins Hall in August three years ago, and I’ll never forget my time there. All of these Collins connections made me particularly excited when I came across the original blueprints of Collins Hall during my time as an intern at The Texas Collection.
Ruth Collins Hall was completed in 1957 as an all-female residence hall. While not a lot has changed as far as the building itself, ways of life within the halls of Collins have drastically changed. At its completion, Collins was outfitted with multiple living spaces on the first floor that reflect student life at Baylor in the 1950s.
Upon entering the lobby, there are three living rooms, a study room, and entrance to the dining room. The living rooms were typically formal settings, where women could receive male callers, who first checked into the front desk—and only during visiting hours. The dining room was also a formal space, and dinners were held family style, where one student per week was assigned to serve the others’ plates before she served herself. After dinner, you may find the women of Collins roaming the halls in each other’s rooms, but only until their early curfew, when they were required to have their lights out.
Those differences in lifestyle from the way Collins operates today seem pretty drastic, but many aspects connect the experiences of the women in my family. Collins acted as the catalyst of many of our early Baylor friendships, from the late night conversations in each other’s rooms to meeting in the lobby to go to the dining hall together, there is a bond that building created between not only my friends and me but also the three generations of women in my family.
Just looking at the early blueprints of Collins Hall brings the stories I have heard in my family come to life. It’s enlightening to see the architectural changes, and there’s a lot to be learned by looking at the change in our beloved buildings throughout history.