Located in the Upper Arboretum, the Hill of Three Oaks has historically been a popular location for picnics, Frisbee games, and concerts. It also overlooks a baseball field where students annually—in memory of Marvin Rotblatt, the pitcher with the…

Laird Stadium, with a seating capacity of 7,500 for football and outdoor track meets, is one of the largest NCAA Division III stadiums in the country. When it was built in 1927, there was some thought that Carleton would join the Big Ten conference,…

Until its removal in 1921, the St. Olaf Elm stood for decades at the jog where West Third Street and Forest Avenue meet. Although long-gone, in its heyday, the elm was considered one of Northfield's most beloved trees, according to local author…

The first-ever Norwegian royal visit to St. Olaf College occurred on May 7 and 8, 1939, Crown Prince Olav and Princess Märtha and their entourage were billeted overnight in the newly constructed Agnes Mellby Hall. The entire first floor and part of…

The history of a library in Northfield goes back to the winter of 1856, a year after the city’s founding, when a group of pioneer women organized a modest reading room in the schoolhouse at Third and Union Streets. The reading room contained a…

Ten years before he was elected president of the United States, Barack Obama spoke at Carleton's Skinner Memorial Chapel on “Politics, Race, and the Common Good.” His address on February 5, 1999, was part of the college's series of weekly…

Carleton’s Japanese garden was named by The Journal of Japanese Gardening in 2000 as one of the ten best Japanese gardens outside Japan. Conceived by Bardwell Smith, Dean of the College and Nason Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Emeritus,…

Past the Hill of the Three Oaks, beyond the Recreation Center, sits a collection of large rocks in a circle. This site is known as the Druid Circle, and its origins provide an interesting insight into the nature of the college. The story begins…

Nestled next to the entrance of Boliou Hall (1949), home to the Art and Art History Department, sits the Boliou Fountain, a revolving sculpture made out of brass that contrasts with the rectilinear form of the building itself. Created by Raymond…

The Archer House is the oldest hotel in Northfield today, but it was not the first one built here. Earlier hotels had been wood-frame structures that were more like rooming houses. In 1877, James Archer, an innkeeper from Hastings, Minnesota,…

Bridge Square has always been a center of town activity. But it did not always look as it does now—with a fountain, a war memorial, and, in the summer, a popcorn wagon. For many years, the square was either a dusty or muddy expanse of dirt that…

When Derek Phillips ’77 was growing up in Kansas City, he knew that he was more artistic than athletic. He had tried basketball, track, and baseball in high school, but it soon became clear to him that competitive athletics were not his strong…

"I wanted to make St. Olaf so nice no student would ever have to apologize for it," said John Berntsen, former head of the St. Olaf College grounds. He retired in 1964 after fifty-two years of devoted service. One of his pet projects over the mid…

The Ware Auditorium on the corner of Washington and Fourth Streets has been a hub of the Northfield entertainment scene for more than a century. Now known as the Grand Event Center, it was built in 1899 by A.K. Ware. Ware served as mayor from 1902 to…

The limestone Bjoraker Building was built before 1870. It most likely replaced another first-generation wooden commercial building built before the Civil War. Unfortunately, not much is known about the building’s early history. A.J. Bjoraker…

The first building located on the southeast corner of Division and Fifth Streets, a site now occupied by J. Grundy’s Rueb 'N' Stein, was the Jenkins House and Tavern. Herman Jenkins built the hotel in 1856 out of wood. It burned in 1867 and was…

Dacie Moses was loved by generations of Carleton students who greatly appreciated her kindness, wisdom, and patience. She took the time to listen to young people and welcomed them like family. Dacie’s one rule was that there would be no discussion…

The large open space between Carleton’s Skinner Memorial Chapel and the Gould Library is affectionately known as “the Bald Spot.” Encircled by academic and administrative buildings, it functions as a social and recreational gathering place for…

Built in 1928, Severance Hall completed the u-shaped set of dormitories (Davis, Burton, and Severance) that housed male students. This collection of collegiate Gothic buildings, tucked behind Scoville Library on the south and Willis Hall on the…

Built in 1910 as a gymnasium that also housed a running track and swimming pool, Sayles-Hill was transformed in 1979 into the Carleton student center. The hub of campus life, it now contains a snack bar, bookstore, game room, post office, radio…

Ytterboe the Dog Nearly sixty years after his fateful demise, Ytterboe the Dog (affectionately known as Bo) remains very much a part of St. Olaf campus lore. Although he belonged to no one in particular, the black mongrel with chow traits first…

For several decades, newly minted St. Olaf graduates stood in a ring, clasping hands while stating the Alumni Pledge in Norwegian, "Enig og tro indtil Manitou falder (United and loyal till Manitou falls)." The phrase was derived from the vow taken by…

In 1948, in response to the town’s growing population, the Northfield Board of Education voted to close College Street and convert Central Park—originally designed by the town’s founder, John W. North—into a playground for the adjacent high…

A wave of “general mourning” descended over Northfield at 7:20 p.m. on January 29, 1919. Everything in the city stopped. The movie theater closed. A basketball game between Carleton and St. Olaf was interrupted. Fred Burnett Hill, Carleton…

In the early 1930s, two Carleton students, looking for somewhere to live because they had not enrolled early enough to find a place in a dorm, noticed the grand mansion on the corner of Union and Third Streets. They stopped to inquire whether the…

Salad Days of The Mighty Caesars In the mid-1930s, ten St. Olaf fellows boarded off campus at 914 West Second Street. They called themselves “The Mighty Caesars.” This name was derived from a “liberated” brash red and white-lettered…

For several decades, the hollow elm near Ladies' Hall provided a wonderful photographic setting for the St. Olaf community. In the college's early years, the tree's cavity was burned to prevent further decay and was tended as an integral part of the…

Nearly a century ago, Georgina Rostad ex-'19 posed for a picture standing next to the St. Olaf Rock. From Rostad’s time to the present, countless others have similarly been photographed in front of, on top of and next to the rock, which has the…

The cornerstone of Rolvaag Memorial Library, now shrouded in a curtain of ivy, conceals an interesting past. Built entirely through the efforts of alumni and friends of St. Olaf College, the library held its cornerstone dedication ceremony June 3,…

Northfield's most well-known historic date is September 7, 1876. On that date, eight members of the notorious James-Younger Gang rode into Northfield intent on robbing the First National Bank of Northfield. The robbery failed because of the…