Torrance Hall

600 North 23rd Avenue East | Clarence Johnston, Architect | Built: 1909 | Extant

The same year Washburn Hall opened, Judge Ell Torrance of Minneapolis was elected president of the State Normal School Board. The following December he filed a report outlining the need for another women’s dormitory in Duluth. It stated that “a teacher to be successful, should have culture as well as learning, refinement as well as mental energy, and while crudeness and an atmosphere of the back woods may to some extent be overlooked in a man, they cannot be condoned in a woman.” Torrance’s view was hardly a feminist perspective, but in 1907 it was convincing evidence to the all-male board.

Clarence Johnston was again asked to design a dormitory for Duluth. He did little more than expand his plans for Washburn Hall, increasing the window bays on the front façade from six to ten on the first two floors, and adding two more dormers to each side of the third story. The building is otherwise nearly identical to Washburn, down to its orange brick and red stone trim. Its basement originally contained a dining room, kitchen, servant’s rooms, pantries, laundry, and cold storage. While the second and third floors were entirely dedicated to sleeping rooms, the main floor held reception rooms, several student living quarters, and a “preceptress’s room,” living quarters for a female principal.

Students continued to live Torrance Hall long after most of the school was relocated to the upper campus in the 1950s. Torrance was purchased in 1995 and converted into the Torrance Hall Apartments. The entire old Normal School campus is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Torrance Hall. (Image: Zenith City Press)