Opened: Fall 1958
Cost: $1.42 million
Calkins Hall was the third residence hall built in what would eventually become a quadrangle on the northwest side of campus. The location of this quad was the site of the Centralville married student housing (Hopkins Court) within the Vetville complex that temporarily housed student veterans after the Second World War, although by the time construction started on Calkins, the apartment buildings that had once stood there had been sold and removed. The interior plans for Calkins copied those developed for Tate Hall the previous year, which featured a suite-style layout that would heavily influence residence hall design until the construction of the Towers complex in the late 1960s. Calkins Hall shares a dining commons with Robinson, Larzelere, and Trout Halls.
The $1.42 million building was designed by Roger Allen of Grand Rapids, who designed many of the other dormitories built during the period of campus expansion and residence hall construction in the 1950s and 1960s. Cornerstones of buildings often contain items that are specific to the time and place the building was constructed, and Calkins was no different. In addition to the usual newspaper clippings and school bulletins, Calkins' cornerstone contains a copy of the United Nations charter and several articles on the crisis in the Middle East over Israel's Suez Campaign.
The building was opened for occupancy in September 1958 and officially dedicated in May 18, 1959. Calkins was built as a women's hall. It housed women in its first year, men from 1959 to 1960, and women after that. In its early days, the hall had a policy that each wing would host faculty members to a dinner once a month. When they were first built, Trout and Calkins were joined without any partitions between them, and in 1959-1960, there were several reports of the Trout men rolling bowling balls down into Calkins.
In the fall of 1967, the women of Calkins Hall won the award for best Homecoming float by a women's residence hall. The float had a large mock bon fire with the cartoon characters Chip and Dale roasting over it. The slogan read, "Fire Up Chips!" This is the first know use of the now-familiar rallying cry for the University.
The hall was named for the head of the Department of Geography from 1902-1944. R. D. Calkins was born in Parma, Michigan on April 20, 1873. He received his Life Certificate from the State Normal School at Ypsilanti in 1897. He was the superintendent of North Branch schools in Lapeer for one year, then returned to Ypsilanti to teach geography. He came to Central to chair the Geography Department in 1902. He was granted Central's first-ever sabbatical, and in 1903 received his Bachelors from the University of Chicago, followed by his Masters from the same institution in 1907. In addition to teaching at Central, he taught summer sessions at the Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and UCLA. He and his wife had two sons. His wife was active in the establishing of the first city library in Mt. Pleasant. Calkins died on September 27, 1955.