After World War II, when many returning veterans headed to college on the GI bill, St. John's didn't have enough dormitory space to accommodate them all. Up until that time, most students lived in Benet Hall.
According to The Record, the Federal Public Housing Association allotted five army barracks to SJU, which were sent to Collegeville from Camp Grant, Illinois in 1946. Each of the five 100x20 foot barracks housed 80 students. The barracks were placed in what was at the time a practice field for Prep athletics, north of the outdoor handball courts. Later the handball courts were demolished to make room for Mary Hall.
Barracks (left to right): 1948; 1949; 1950 (click thumbnails for larger images)
With Mary Hall under construction to house students by fall 1951, the barracks were moved and put to other uses. Some were sold (in sections) and removed from campus altogether, to places like Avon and Big Fish Lake. Others still stand on campus, and were used to form parts of buildings used by the Liturgical Press and Custodial Services. Having undergone significant renovations over the years, their initial use as barracks has been almost totally obscured over time.
- The Record 1946 (article), June 20, 1946, p. 1
- The Record 1950 (article with photos), February 9, 1950, p. 2
- 1957 Sagatagan Yearbook (photo), p. 247
- Vanderhorck Letter from the St. John's Alumni Magazine, Winter 1995, vol. 35, no. 1, p. 17
- Avon House - 2006 renovation photos of a house that was once one of the barracks
- Big Fish Lake Cabin - also once one of the barracks at SJU