After St. Louis College opened in 1894, it continued to attract more and more students every year. It eventually got to the point where the school could no longer take in additional students because of the lack of space. In 1903 talks began of creating an additional building, but it was not until 1908 that the brothers got the go ahead to create a secondary building. Construction on Reinbolt began on February 2,1908 with the expectation that it would be completed before the fall semester.
However,the building was not finished by the time school started, causing the school to convert some classrooms in St. Louis into temporary living quarters. They moved the students into the living quarters of Reinbolt as soon as those rooms where ready, even though construction on the rest of the building continued. Construction finished in November of 1908, but the public dedication of the building did not occur until January 28, 1909. The new building served as many different things at this time. It contained classrooms, living quarters for students, separate living quarters for Marianists brothers, an infirmary, the new chapel, and an assembly hall.
Reinbolt changed over the years to become the building it is today. At some point the University decided to no longer use Reinbolt for dormitories, due to the creation of dedicated residence halls. After this, it became mainly classrooms and offices. In 1953, the university added a bookstore and a placement office to Reinbolt Hall. Both of these offices proved to be incredibly helpful to the students. The bookstore provided easy access to materials for class and the placement office helped students find jobs while they went to college. The bookstore continues to be a great tool for students, although it’s no longer located in this building (it is currently located in the University Center). It served as a gathering place for students during large school events and served as a theatre for the drama department. The auditorium was located underneath the chapel, now called Assumption Chapel. Today, unfortunately, the auditorium is no longer accessible to students.
In 2012 the University renovated Assumption Chapel by adding a marble floors and installing a new altar. This had unintended consequences. When the Marianists built Reinbolt, engineering techniques were less sophisticated than they are today. The building does not have a pier and beam foundation, meaning the foundation is not as strong as those of contemporary buildings. The top of that the foundation is on top of swelling clay, which is not a particularly solid foundation. Part of the installation included removing some pillars, one of which ended up being load-bearing. The new altar is also much heavier than the previous one. Due to the lack of support for the floor and altar there were concerns that the theatre was no longer safe to hold performances. The new weight also caused the building to start to crack and bend. If you look closely you can still see some of the cracks from this. Luckily the university noticed these problems, and so the building underwent renovations again in 2014 that improved the structure of the building to stop it from cracking. The theatre is not open yet, but hopefully it will be opened after some future renovations.
Reinbolt Hall is an important part of the life of any Saint Mary’s student and has been for over a century. Reinbolt has taken many different roles over the years and will continue to change and adapt to the needs of the university so that it can continue to serve students.