Building Plans: Kelly-Beecher-Green

Photo Credit: 
University of Chicago Photographic Archive apf2-00672, Special Collections Research Center

Now used for Psychology and Latin American Studies, Kelly, Beecher and Green were originally built as dormitories for women. In 1963, these were renovated for the department of Psychology, at that time home to names like Fiske and Kohlberg. The Dean's Office still has the plans for that renovation and is always willing to discuss the challenges inherent in running a 21st Century Psychology department in a dormitory built in the 19th.

Completed in 1893, Kelly-Beecher-Green, formed an anchor for the so-called “Women’s Quadrangle” along with the Walker Museum and Julius Rosenwald Hall. Designed to allow women not only to live comfortably, “but with taste,” it also became the longtime home of Marion Talbot, Professor of Anthropology and Dean of Women, until she retired in 1925. A woman of many hats, Talbot led the American Association of University Women and wrote extensively, including her own 1936 memoir of life at the University More Than Lore. Amidst it all, she still found time to answer William Rainey Harper's concerns about too much male dancing in Kelly Hall.

By 1960, students had been moved to other dormitories and the department of Psychology was to be relocated.  A “modern” department needed animal testing facilities and observation rooms -- all of which were built into the basement.   The renovation in 1963 had NIMH-funded research in mind and designated space for specific projects. 

Walking through the halls, few indications of the the old dormitory remain.  Even the 1963 renovation has largely disappeared as rooms have been retrofitted for acoustic and electromagnetic isolation.   Instead of young women and their suitors in the parlors, one frequently sees young children in the halls, waiting to participate in studies.  And all that remains of the animal laboratories that once occupied Beecher are some furniture storage rooms with one-way glass and eerie signs that still read “surgery.”