85. Commons Dining Hall


In 1917, Madison Hall was built on the land formerly occupied by University Hall, which had served as a residence and dining facility for forty years.  In that tradition, Madison was designed with the capacity to feed the entire freshmen and sophomore classes, along with upperclassmen not in eating clubs.  To avoid the problems of one central cavernous space, the architects developed five smaller, connected dining halls that were more intimate and suitable to the residential university ideal.  Collectively referred to as the “Commons,” the five rooms were known as Madison, Upper Eagle, Lower Eagle, Upper Cloister and Lower Cloister.  Meals were served family-style by student waiters to their peers, as shown here.  In the 1980s, as part of the transition to the new residential college structure, the Commons was extensively renovated and incorporated into Mathey and Rockefeller Colleges as dining facilities and common room space.