Cost: $1.56 Million
Sweeney Hall was the second residence hall built in a quadrangle on what was then the southern limit of campus. Sweeney, along with Merrill, Beddow, and Thorpe, was located south of Washington Court and far from any classroom or other campus buildings. There were no sidewalks, streetlights, or public transportation when the first inhabitants moved in. The construction of these four buildings, the southeast quad, and the Towers complex by the early 1970s relocated the center of campus living southward. Because Sweeney and Merrill Halls were the first residence halls opened this far south, it was difficult to convince students to sign up for rooms in buildings located so far from what was then the center of campus activity.
Sweeney, along with the other residence halls in this area of campus, was designed by architects from Roger Allen and Associates in Grand Rapids. The $1.56 million building was designed to house 316 students. The building opened for occupancy in the summer of 1961 as a women's hall, the sister hall to Merrill. Both Merrill and Sweeney Halls were dedicated in a joint ceremony on November 5, 1961. In 2010, Sweeney Hall was the last hall to change to co-ed, marking an end to single-sex residence halls at CMU.
Sweeney Hall was named for a longtime professor in the Department of Physical Education and the coach of Central's gymnastics team. Lawrence "Doc" Sweeney was born on August 13, 1907 in Mt. Pleasant. He graduated from Sacred Heart Academy and Central State Teachers College. He taught gymnastics at Central and developed a touring gymnastics demonstration group. He spent thirteen years as a line coach for the football team and he coached Central's basketball team during World War II. He was a pioneer in the development of summer athletic camps at Central, and was mostly responsible for the change in mascot from the Bearcats to the Chippewas, which he felt would allow for more pageantry at halftime. He and his wife, Mary, had a son and two daughters. Sweeney died on August 24, 1957.