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 north, was patterned loosely after the English Gothic buildings at Oxford, which came to be associated with colleges nationally.
The second floor of Severance Hall provided housing for upperclassmen, and the main floor contained Great Hall, a dramatic space patterned after an English country house ballroom. Great Hall is used for formal dinners, receptions, concerts, and the annual MidWinter Ball; in 1995, it was used as the location for a scene in the third Mighty Ducks movie.
A dorm above Great Hall was the home of the first African American student to attend Carleton. Alvis Lee Tinnin ’49 arrived in chilly Minnesota in January 1945, after he had served in combat during World War II and had spent some time on Broadway. Tinnin left his most memorable mark on Carleton in the world premiere of the play The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
After he graduated from Carleton, Tinnin attended Yale University to get a master’s degree in French. He taught at the University of the Redlands in California and retired in 1990 as professor of the year.