Chaminade Tower was built in 1921 on the grounds of St. Mary’s University. It originally served as a men’s dorm with offices on the basement and first floor. Chaminade Hall was built in 1951 as a men’s dorm. The Hall was built attached to the Tower, but there was no entrance that allowed passage from one building into the other without going outside. Chaminade Tower was remodeled in 1993 and became designated for office use only. All dorm rooms were removed from the Tower.
During the 1950s, Chaminade Tower was a men’s dorm on the second through fifth floor. The seniors had first choice of rooms and they usually chose the lower floors since there was no elevator, leaving freshmen and sophomores to the top floors. A Brother lived on each floor and served as a resident assistance for the young men. At one point, a group of young men took apart a Model-T, carried the parts to the second floor and reassembled the car in the hall. The basement of the building was deemed a bomb shelter during this time period.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Tower continued as a men’s dorm, but things were starting to change. The basement was turned into a career center, and the chaplain’s office moved to the first floor where a confessional was built for student use. One student questioned the existence of God during a thunder storm, lightning struck the building and dropped rubble at his feet. The student ended up in Assumption Chapel praying to God. Other students were injured during storms causing lightning rods to finally be added to the rooftop. During this time the first floor or Chaminade Tower was expanded to add meeting rooms near St. Louis Hall. An explosion at a local Air Force Base caused windows to be blown out of the Tower in 1966.
During these years, a student living on the top floor collected snakes, which was allowed at the time. He enjoyed wrapping the snakes around his neck and taking them with him around campus, but especially to basketball games. He had one snake that looked like a rattle snake that earned him the nickname “rattler man.” One time, at a basketball game, his snake got away and started to slither across the court while the visiting team was practicing, scaring them all.
In the 1980s, Chaminade Tower continued to be a men’s dorm with several of the offices changing in the basement and first floor. The offices of the President and Chaplain were replaced by Admissions offices. The Admissions staff had to double and triple park, so they left all their car keys at the front desk. When one had to leave, they had to move all the other cars to get out.
In 1993 the Tower was completely remodeled, turning the entire space into offices. The offices located on the basement and first floor were relocated all over campus during the renovation. There were also significant changes made to the parking lot so that the people in the admissions office no longer had to rearrange everyone’s cars to leave the lot.
Although Chaminade Hall has been relatively unchanged since it was built, Chaminade Tower has seen many changes over the years. Even so, the Tower remains a prominent part of life on campus for both students and staff.