MHC origin stories: the Mandelles

November 18, 2019 at 2:27 PM

Mandelles: Hillside 1924, glass plate negative

North and South Mandelle Halls (often called the Mandelles or the ’Delles) were built in 1923, as Mount Holyoke prepared to welcome an expanding student body. The structure — which is actually made up of two separate, smaller halls that connect to form one large building — was originally named Hillside, in tribute to its location under at the foot of the sprawling Prospect Hill. 

Sunroom, North Mandelle Hall

In 1930 the building was renamed to honor the generosity of Mary Mandelle, whose bequest of $500,000 marked the largest gift that the College had ever received up to that date. These funds were utilized to address deferred maintenance needs for the residence halls. Because income from the endowment no longer needed to be applied to residence hall maintenance, Mary's gift freed up funds to be invested in increased faculty salaries.

The Mandelles are known across campus for their majestic grandeur. Their beautiful common rooms are similar to those of Rockefeller Hall (also known as the Rockies) and feature spacious adjoining sunrooms. These popular sun-soaked nooks are perfect places to hold gatherings or even just to study with friends. Because the ’Delles are located on the far end of campus, they’re a popular choice for those who want to escape the bustle and chatter of living on Skinner Green and prefer instead to take scenic walks across the lake, enjoy splendid views of the Pioneer Valley or hike the campus trails.

Offering a unique vantage point of Mount Holyoke's living laboratory, the Mandelles are bordered to the east by Prospect Hill, a section of which was recently designated as a "no mow zone" in order to improve the pollinator habitat and increase the diversity of pollinator species visiting campus. The hill's wooded section is also home to three monitoring plots that are used to observe forest health and regeneration. Many alums remember “the ’Delles hill” fondly as the perfect place to host an autumnal picnic with friends (it provides a magnificent vista of nearby fall foliage) or for winter sledding adventures with "borrowed" dinning hall trays or cardboard boxes as improvised sleds.

The residence halls are also popular with seniors, as they offer dozens of single-occupancy rooms. Together, the North and South Mandelles combine to form one of the biggest residence halls on campus, housing about two-hundred students and eclipsed in size by only the Rockies. In recent years, the ’Delles have become known as the best dorm for community bashes and regularly host themed parties and events. Additionally, they are home to the College’s Language Living-Learning Communities, which provide an immersive housing experience to students passionate about learning French, Italian, Spanish or German.

Thanks to all these things, the Mandelles have endured as an important part of campus community and life.

Pictured above: Exterior of Mandelles (Hillside) 1924, photo courtesy of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections. 
Above, right: The North Mandelle Hall sunroom, present day.

Rachel Nix ’20

Written by Rachel Nix ’20

Rachel, a politics major and sociology minor, is a marketing assistant in the Office of Advancement and a contributor to the MHC Forever blog. Hailing from West Virginia, she serves on MHC’s Admissions and Financial Aid Advisory Committee, is deeply involved with social justice initiatives and loves spending her free time with friends, reading on the green or trying to pet Jorge, the goose.