Rosemary Hall

1903 - 1990

Rosemary Hall was built to be an auditorium with additional dorm and classroom space for the growing college. It was erected in 1903 at a cost of $20,000, raised through scholarships, tuition, and small gifts.23 The "West Building," as it was originally called, was 54 by 89 feet, and purported to be "practically fireproof."1 A corridor connected the hall to Main Hall on the ground, first, and second floors. (The basement corridor is rumored to still be part of Cottey's tunnel system.) The building was formally opened in March of 1904 with an orchestra and choir concert.23 In later years it was renamed "Rosemary Hall" for Rose Cottey and Mary Boddie, two beloved professors who each taught at Cottey for 27 years.

Chafing dish party in rosemary, c. 1914
A chafing dish party in Rosemary Hall, c. 1914. The U.S. flags are in honor of the first World War.22
Neale Hall, Rosemary Hall, and Main Hall, c. 1927
A rare photo of Neale, Rosemary, and Main Hall ― the entire Cottey campus as it was when given to P.E.O. in 1927.6 Note the streetcar tracks.
Rosemary auditorium, c. 1938
Rosemary auditorium, c. 1938.8 Note the Emerson society banner to the right of the stage, the two Steinways, and the organ.

Suites, Classrooms, & Auditorium

Rosemary was comprised of four stories (although the fourth was not completed until 1919). The ground floor (basement) was built for classrooms and a chemistry laboratory2 (which later became speech rooms), while the first floor housed the auditorium.1 The second and third floors contained four suites. This was the first implementation of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard's "suite plan," a housing floor plan she had seen the same year at the University of Toronto.1 Each of Rosemary's four suites housed 10 to 14 students, and was headed by a faculty "big sister." The 1903-04 Cottey catalogue states:

The second and third floors carry out the unique suite plan of dormitory living. Each suite consists of a common sitting room with single and double sleeping rooms arranged around it. This plan is unusual and is received with high favor by our students and patrons. It safeguards the student from the necessity of uncongenial or unhealthful room-mates and yet brings each student into a wholesome social relationship with all members of her suite. Each suite accommodates from 10 to 14 students and one faculty member is 'Big Sister' to those in her suite. Here are planned many delightful social evenings.1

The 1908-09 catalogue adds, "There are also rooms for two when sisters or special cases demand it, and a few large front rooms are arranged to accommodate three or four students."1

In 1919, the fourth floor was finished.1 The southern part contained an infirmary with two wards, a bath, nurse's room, and service room. The northern part was used as an art studio.

Rosemary's auditorium had seating for 400 people, with a rostrum that could fit 200.1 The floor was elevated from front to rear to provide adequate views of the stage, and dark blue velvet curtains covered the auditorium's 11 windows.8 These drapes were finally replaced when the auditorium was redecorated in 1976.23 A decade earlier, a projection booth was installed in the theater for Sunday night movies.

Colorado Suite, c. 1938
Colorado suite, c. 1938.7 (Virginia Harrington, Margaret Roediger, Dorothy Ellen Simms, Aileen Springer, Dorothy Arbogast, Edna Mae Dansdill.)
Colorado suite, c. 1941
Colorado suite was the first to be sponsored by a P.E.O. chapter, c. 1940.5
Oklahoma suite, c. 1941
Oklahoma suite, c. 1940.5


Through the 1960s, Cottey held mandatory assemblies in Rosemary each Tuesday morning at 11:00.8 Some assemblies were organized by students while others were directed by professors or visiting guests. The content ranged from academic lectures to skits poking fun at the faculty. Even reviews of current books were considered good entertainment!

Assembly topics from 1944 and 1945 included everything from manners to international relations. Social training was still a priority then, as referenced by the "Good Grooming" and etiquette assemblies held in November of 1944. The former was presented by the Cottey Home Economics Club, who stressed that "Without perfect fingernails, a neat hair-style, and attractive make-up, a beautiful costume or a beautiful girl will appear commonplace."11 Proper etiquette was illustrated by the Cottey Dramatics Club through a series of skits brimming with offences.12 In October of 1945, Dr. Orpha Stockard spoke on the expanding educational opportunities for women, and urged her students to examine what they wanted to do with their lives.13 She concluded, in a student's words, that "It is not the amount of schooling necessary, but rather the desire to have a home, that keeps most women from entering professional occupations."13 In November of that year, the International Relations Club sponsored a round-table discussion on Japan and the "difficulties confronting the Allies."18 Among the questions discussed were "[H]ow much control [does] the emperor really have," "[W]hat form of government should be set up in Japan," and "Can we take away Japan's colonies?"18

Assemblies were not looked forward to by everyone. Attendance was required, however, and "checkers" often made rounds through the dorms to ensure everyone was in Rosemary (or at least not in their suites).20 In the 1960s, some Cotteyites were still savvy enough (and desperate enough) to avoid assemblies. Cottey's dorm rooms did not have locks in those days ― but the closets did. Students would climb into their closets, lock them from the inside, and wait for their rooms to be checked. After the checker left, the clever ladies would emerge from hiding, having successfully escaped another dreadful Cottey assembly.

Rosemary auditorium, c. 1966
A captive audience in Rosemary auditorium, with an inset of the dressing room, c. 1966.14
Junior Days assembly, c. 1966
A Junior Days assembly, 1965.14
Convocation in Rosemary, c. 1966
Convocation ceremony in Rosemary, 1965.14

Chapel & Vespers

Chapel services were moved to Rosemary Hall when it was finished in 1903. While they had previously been held at Cottey numerous times during the week, these shrunk to one service on Thursday mornings by the 1930s.8 In the '40s, Reverend Frederick C. Low (who also taught the Bible class) gave the chapel address on the last Thursday of every month.19 On the second Thursday, a student chosen by the Y.W.C.A. spoke on a subject like duty or new beginnings. The remaining two weeks were filled with services by Nevada ministers, who each gave a series of five lectures at Cottey. A choir of six students and a student organist provided music.

Music Vespers were held on Tuesday nights directly following dinner.8 Both students and faculty provided music in the dark auditorium, where "the excitement, hilarity, worry, happiness and fun [were] blended and dimmed to a peaceful calm that the girls remember as one of the lovely experiences of their lives at Cottey."8


Rosemary auditorium was used for music and drama productions by students and visiting artists. The college received its first Steinway grand piano in 1906, and this was proudly placed in Rosemary.23 By the 1930s, the building's equipment included two Steinway pianos, a small movie screen, and an Estey pipe organ. The sole organ was in high demand, and organ students had to be limited to seven per semester.8

The first Cottey play, "Miss Mary Smith," was produced in March of 1911 by the newly formed drama club.23 Rosemary was not designed with plays in mind, so several improvements to the auditorium were made over the years. The stage was renovated and seating changed in 1964. Dressing rooms and a backstage bathroom were finally added in 1970, as well as carpeting for the aisles.

Cottey's Artist Series also brought musicians, actors, and other performers to Rosemary. In 1938, Music Department Director Floella Farley commented, "Our auditorium has known no happier moments than when students and faculty gather in formal dress to enjoy these splendid artists."8

Cottey play productions in Rosemary, c. 1940
"Dramatics are fun!", c. 1940.5
Rosemary substage, c. 1959
"Sandra Youle, rehearsing lines for a Drama Club play on the substage, is prompted by Carolyn Crawford and Mary Giese," c. 1959.26
Rosemary Hall's dressing room, c.
Rosemary Hall's dressing room, c. 1978.24


In the summer of 1939, an outside fireproof stairway was added to the hall, and fire-doors were installed between Rosemary and Main Hall.1 An inspection in 1940 revealed that Rosemary was in desperate need of a rewiring — especially its stage. The hall was rewired and redecorated the following year, and given new plumbing in 1949.23

With the erection of Robertson Hall in 1959, Rosemary's four suites were converted into faculty offices and practice rooms for the music department.23 The hall had long been considered a fire hazard, so it came as a great relief to the administration to move the students out.

The Decision Not to Save Rosemary

In the midst of Main Hall's renovation in 1980, it was decided to separate the building from Rosemary. Had the corridor between the two buildings not been demolished, Cottey would have been legally obligated to bring Rosemary up to modern building codes.23 An elevator and sprinkler system would need to be installed, as well as new wiring, roof work, windows, and air conditioning and heating systems. The estimated cost of the renovation was $2.25 million.

In addition, Rosemary's drama facilities were severely subpar. The stage had no space on the sides or above for changing scenery or flying it.23 There was no scene shop, so all sets had to be built on stage, decreasing the size of the already small stage. It was also difficult for much of the audience to see the stage, because the front of the stage was convex instead of concave and the seating area did not incline enough. And since there was only one auditorium, scheduling conflicts were common.

For all these reasons, it was decided not to renovate Rosemary in 1980, and this sealed the building's fate. By this time, the 80-year-old building had fallen into disrepair. Due to concerns about wiring and structural weakness, the music department moved to Main Hall in 1981, and few people were allowed on the upper floors of Rosemary.23 The third story was used for costume storage, and the second story for limited set construction. The hall's wood floors were also badly deteriorated; a section of the auditorium floor had to be replaced in 1986 just to make it safe for public performances. None of these concerns prevented ghost-hunting Cottey students from sneaking onto Rosemary's upper floors in the dead of night, though.

In the late 1980s, Cottey began designing a new performing arts center. The plans included the demolition of Rosemary Hall. This eventually occurred in the summer of 1990, a year after the Haidee and Allen Wild Center for the Arts opened. Rosemary's auditorium seats are still around, though: They were donated to the local Masonic lodge, where they remain today.20

More Photos

  Theater & Music Interiors Exteriors Mary Boddie  
Theater & Music
Cottey play productions in Rosemary, c. 1940
A Cottey play production, c. 1940.5
Organ practice in Rosemary, c. 1940
A student practices on the organ, c. 1940.5
Cottey Chapel Choir, c. 1940
Cottey Chapel Choir, c. 1940.5
Piano duet, c. 1940
A piano duet on Rosemary's stage, c. 1940.5
A Midsummer Night's Dream in Rosemary, c. 1959
A performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1959.26 (Barbara Paulsen, Carol Merryfield, Joanne Kershaw, Joan Smith.)
Rosemary set shop, c. 1959
Students paint sets for Delta Psi Omega points, 1959.26 (Barbara Paulsen, Sandra Peeples, Karen Poulson, Kay Lathrop, Jeanette MacDonald, Carol Merryfield.)
Rosemary Hall, c. 1959
The Concert Reading Group performed scenes from Shaw, c. 1959.26 (Karen Poulson, Joan Smith, Nancy Bouse, Lynne Livingston, Mildred Lasater, Linda Keltner.)
Cottey play production, c. 1966
A play production (with many donkeys), c. 1966.14
Drama rehearsals in Rosemary Hall, 1969
Drama students work on a set in the Rosemary auditorium, 1969.10 (Professor Richard Eschliman is second from left.)
  Come Fill the Cup, c. 1976
A production of "Come Fill the Cup," c. 1976.15
Rosemary Interiors
Art class in Rosemary, c.1920
The art studio on Rosemary's fourth floor, c. 1920.
Cottey infirmary in Rosemary Hall, c. 1940
"...the college maintains an infirmary under the supervision of a physician and a registered nurse," in Rosemary, c. 1940.5
Rosemary assembly, c. 1966
Eager students await another thrilling assembly, c. 1966.14
Formal Drawing, 1975
The auditorium during Formal Drawing of the societies, 1975.15
  Capping ceremony in Rosemary Hall, 1976
A rare indoor Capping ceremony due to inclement weather, 1976.15
Rosemary Exteriors
  Rosemary Hall and Missouri Hall, c. 1915
A panoramic of Rosemary Hall at right and Missouri Hall on the left, c. 1915.9 Neither building remains.
Main Hall and Rosemary Hall
Rosemary (left) and Main Hall, c. 1905.
Main Hall and Rosemary Hall
Rosemary (left) and Main Hall illustration, c. 1908.3
Rosemary Hall, Main Hall, and Stockard Hall
Rosemary, Main Hall, and Stockard Hall, c. 1915.
Rosemary Hall entrance, c. 1941
Rosemary's entrance, c. 1940.5
Students in front of Rosemary, c. 1947
Students in front of Rosemary, c. 1947.4
Graduates leave Rosemary Hall, 1949
Graduates leave Rosemary Hall, 1949.15
Rosemary Hall
Rosemary Hall, c. 1950s.
Rosemary, c. 1952
A snowy day outside Rosemary, c. 1952.16
Rosemary, Neale, and PEO Halls, c. 1952
Rosemary, Neale, and PEO Halls, c. 1952.16
Rosemary Hall, c. 1959
"Rosemary Hall, the oldest dorm on campus, will not be used after this year as a new dorm, Robertson Hall, will be completed in the fall," c. 1959.26
Rosemary Hall, c. 1960
Rosemary Hall, c. 1960.1
Rosemary Hall's entrance
Rosemary's entrance, c. 1960s.
Rosemary Hall, c. 1966
Rosemary, c. 1966.14
Rosemary Hall, c. 1976
Rosemary Hall, c. 1976.17
Rosemary Hall, 1979
Rosemary Hall, 1979.27
Rosemary and Main halls, c. 1980
Rosemary and Main halls, c. 1980.21
  Rosemary Hall, c. 1987
You can barely make out the sign over the entrance, c. 1987.23
Mary Boddie
Mary Boddie, c. 1915
Professor Mary Boddie, for whom Rosemary was named (along with Rose Cottey), c. 1915.9
Mary Boddie
Mary Boddie as a young woman.25

Works Cited:

  1. Stockard, Orpha. Cottey College: The First 75 Years. Joplin, MO: Joplin Printing Co., 1961. Print.
  2. Troesch, Helen DeRusha. Life of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard. Wayside Press, Inc., 1955. Print.
  3. "Nevada Souvenir." c. 1910. Web.
  4. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1947. Print.
  5. Cottey Junior College promotional booklet. c. 1940. Print.
  6. "Cottey-P.E.O. Partnership ... Story of Campus Expansion." The P.E.O. Record. Mar. 1976: 2-5. Print.
  7. Farley, Floella P. "News From P.E.O.'s College." The P.E.O. Record. Feb. 1938: 18-19. Print.
  8. Farley, Floella P. "Cottey College Interiors." The P.E.O. Record. Apr. 1938: 5-7. Print.
  9. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1915. Print.
  10. Watson, Virginia. "Cottey Drama at Convention." The P.E.O. Record. Sept. 1969: 5-6. Print.
  11. Reeves, Rosemary. "Etiquette Assembly: November 14." The Cottey Bulletin. Mar. 1945: 6. Print.
  12. Reeves, Rosemary. "Good Grooming Assembly: November 28." The Cottey Bulletin. Mar. 1945: 6-7. Print.
  13. Smaha, Jo Anne. "Dr. Stockard Speaks on Vocations." The Cottey Bulletin. Dec. 1945: 8. Print.
  14. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1966. Print.
  15. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1949. Print.
  16. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1952. Print.
  17. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1976. Print.
  18. McCorkindale, Dorothy. "I.R.C. Assembly." The Cottey Bulletin. Dec. 1945: 9. Print.
  19. Hill, Pat. "Chapels." The Cottey Bulletin. Dec. 1945: 9. Print.
  20. Dunaway, Annette. Interview. 7 Aug. 2009.
  21. Milam, Dr. Evelyn. "Main Hall – Pride of Cottey." The P.E.O. Record. June 1980: 6-8. Print.
  22. McVean, Ruby. "Miss Cottey's School: The First 25 Years." The P.E.O. Record. Nov./Dec. 1986: 2-5. Print.
  23. Albright, Kay. "Cottey's Rosemary Hall." The P.E.O. Record. Apr. 1987: 2-3. Print.
  24. Tinsley, Beverly. "Cottey College...on the lighter side." The P.E.O. Record. Dec. 1978: 10-12. Print.
  25. Campbell, Elizabeth McClure. The Cottey Sisters of Missouri. Parkville, MO: Park College Press, 1970. Print.
  26. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1959. Print.
  27. Courtesy Annette Dunaway.
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