From GW Encyclopedia
Title: Mabel Thurston Hall
Address: 1900 F Street, N.W.
Square and lot, bordering streets: Square 122 (E, F, 19th, 20th Streets)
Date of construction: ca.1930
Original owner: Unknown
Description: Thurston Hall, like many other campus dorms was a former apartment building (Park Central Apartments). In 1964 it was acquired by GW and converted into a dormitory for women, and became co-ed in 1972/73. It is eight-stories high, with a basement. It is faced with five-course American bond orange brick. There are some Art Deco-inspired decorations in the window bays with diagonally-laid bricks. The dorm, formerly known as “Superdorm,” was named for Mabel Nelson Thurston in 1967 following a Board of Trustees decision January 19. GW’s first female undergraduate, Ms. Thurston was admitted in 1888 to Columbian University (later George Washington University), and earned an A.B. degree in 1891 and an A.M. in 1893.
Ms. Thurston was not the University's first woman graduate, however she held the distinction of being its first woman undergraduate. GW's experience with co-education began fitfully in the 1880s with proposals for admitting women to its professional schools. In the case of law, the faculty voted dismissively in 1883 not to admit women on grounds that women attorneys were "not required by any public want." The following year, however, the medical school admitted four women and in 1887 awarded the University's first medical degree to Clara Bliss Hinds. After trying for seven years to maintain separate sex medical instruction, the medical faculty reached the point where, they concluded, "the strain on modesty" had become too great, and gave it up. From the ripples of that first test, a tidal wave of Colombian women has swept across the campus. Since 1986, women undergraduates have consistently outnumbered the men. Today, Thurston Hall, at the corner of F and 19th, commemorates Ms. Thurston's lonely break-through. (Article by Dr. Peter Hill)
Historic designation: None
Photographic Credit: GW University Historical Photographs Collection
Author or Source: University Archives subject files; Reconnaissance-Level Architectural Survey Of Properties In Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C., 1999 (RG0063, Series 10, Box 1, Folder 3)
Document Location: University Archives
Date Added to Encyclopedia: December 21, 2006
Prepared by: Lyle Slovick
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