On January 12, 1951, the Kresge Foundation granted Albion college $500,000 for construction. An additional $430,000 was raised by the college itself for Baldwin Hall when it became known that it would be advisable to expand the original plans. Baldwin was scheduled to replace a temporary student union building, which was a former barracks installation. It would provide a dining hall for freshman men as well as a student center.
Speaking on plans for it, Dr. Whitehouse said: This added facility will meet a long felt need on our campus and will not only enable us to meet competition for students but will provide adequate accommodations for our students, faculty, and also visiting conferences and church groups. This gift, bringing to realizationanother of our long-range plans for Albion, and coming when it did, thrilled the hearts of all of us. Work on the student center proceeded despite the control of the supply of materials imposed by the Korean War emergency
At the Homecoming luncheon announcement was made that this new building is to be named Baldwin Hall in honor of Dr. Charles W. Baldwin, a distinguished minister of our church, for many years a member of the Board of Trustees, and one-time President. so may expressions of appreciation have been received regarding the appropriateness of this name. This building will be the center of so many varied types of services. It will serve the needs of students, faculty, alumni, and visiting friends, and will increasingly be a center for Michigan Methodism, and in fact will serve the national church groups that meet here. To honor a former church leader and Board member is significant.
By late 1951, 13 members of the Baldwin family had attended Albion. Hence it was fitting that one of them, Howard Baldwin, an attorney, give the principal address at the dedication service.
Baldwin Hall was completed in August 1952, and went into use immediately. Its actual cost wasabout double the original $500,000 grant made for it. among the first uses to which the center was put was the serving of a supper to 950 freshmen and their parents when the first semester opened in September of that year. BetweenSeptember 17, 1952 and April 30, 1953, 251 groups used Baldwin Hall for meetings and conferences.
Source: Gildart, Robert. Albion College, 1835-1960, A History. Chicago: Donnelley Lakeside Press, 1961.
Looking out upon “the grove” from the Baldwin Hall dining room.
Source: Keith Fennimore. The Albion College Sesquicentennial History. Albion, Michigan: Albion College. 1985. p 572.
Source: Isaac Kremer, January 2004.
From the Albion College Archives
As you can see from the name above the door, Baldwin Hall was originally designed to host alumni, as well as serving as the College’s primary dining facility. It was named after Dr. Charles W. Baldwin, a distinguished minister of the Methodist Church, member of the Board of Trustees and one-time President. With the outbreak of the Korean War, which imposed some restrictions on the supply of structural steel, it was worried that construction on Baldwin would be slowed or even halted, but the College prevailed, and the building was completed without incident. (Fennimore, pp.572-73)
From the Albion College Archives Postcard Collection
For many years, Baldwin also housed the “student union” and offices such as the Student Senate, campus radio station, and student newspaper. As recently as 1971, it also contained 2 rooms, each with a television set. In those days, there were very few television sets on campus, and only 2 network stations were available in Albion. One room was tuned to one station, and the other room was tuned to the other station. Students decided which network they wanted to watch and went to the appropriate room.
Baldwin Hall is now entirely dedicated to feeding students and has been recently renovated.
All photographs are from the Albion College Archives Photograph Files, unless otherwise noted.
Source: Albion College Archives, 2003 [Downloaded July 3, 2003]