Construction of the Home Management House was completed in early February 1939, with the Open House held February 16, 1939. It was built as the Home Management Practice House for Home Economics majors. At a meeting of the General Council of the Congregation held on Sept. 11, 1938, Rev. M. Philothea was authorized to arrange for the erection of a Home Management House in connection with the Home Economics Department. The cost of the house and furniture was $12,000. The alumnae furnished the sitting room for $350.


The first House Mother was Mrs. Marguerite Corkill, BS and MS from Iowa State College. She had taught Home Economics at the Iowa State College of Ames, Iowa, and the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. She had also given Adult Homemaking and Parent Education classes in Oklahoma and had been a House Mother in the Practice House at the University of Wyoming. She was from Enid, Oklahoma and drove down to Our Lady of the Lake with her son, Jack, and his friend, Alan Neal. Mrs. Corkill was greeted at the College by Mother Angelique and Sister Providentia and was given a tour of the campus.


The second House Mother was Katherine Elliott who came to the Department of Home Economics in the opening of the Fall term, 1939. She came with a BS and MS degree from the University of Wisconsin. Her teaching duties included Nutrition, Child Development, Textiles, and Institutional Management. Miss Elliott retired in the summer of 1961.


According to the March 8, 1939, issue of The Tatler, there was even a Home Management dog named Homer, who ate the “left overs”. In November of 1939, Our Lady of the Lake hosted a regional Home Economics convention and served coffee in the House to representatives from 18 colleges (The Phoenix, November 22, 1939). A Thanksgiving Tea was also served to about one hundred guests (The Phoenix, December 6, 1939).


The Home Management House continued under the same name until May 5, 1963, when under the direction of Sister Ancilla Kneiper, Department of Home Economics, the house was refurnished and redecorated. It was then given the name of Elliott House to honor Katherine Elliott who was the first instructor to take charge of students living in the house. Mrs. Mary Jo Biedeger was the House Mother at that time.


During their six weeks practice stay, the students took turns during chores that rotated on a weekly basis. The girls alternated working in one of seven positions: manager, downstairs maid, head-cook, assistant-cook, waitress, upstairs maid, and assistant upstairs maid (The Phoenix, March 25, 1948). The manager planned menus within a set budget and was not allowed to spend more than 45¢ per meal per person, except on two economy days when the limit was 25¢. The students were required to serve lunch at 12:15 even when they had classes until noon (The Phoenix, April 17 1940). The manager was normally the one who planned the menu, inventoried the food at the end of the week, and went grocery shopping. In addition to cleaning, the downstairs maid had to gather and arrange flowers (The Phoenix, March 25, 1948).


By 1949, the meal limit had been raised to 65¢ per person. The manager’s title had also expanded to include the term of “hostess”. When she held that position, she was allowed to invite one dinner guest to the House. The girls living there were expected to wake up at 6:30 and go to bed at 10:00 just as when they lived in the residence halls (The Phoenix, May 5, 1949). By 1952, the six weeks practice stay had expanded to eight weeks and the budget limit had increased to 75¢ per person. The waking hour had been changed to 5:30 a.m. and the manager was allowed to have a dinner guest once a week. The girls were allowed to have dates in the parlor every Wednesday night and could have guests for coffee at 10:00, 2:00 and 4:00 (The Phoenix, April 2, 1952). When it came to meal preparation, students were expected to provide seven basic foods on a daily basis and to use all leftovers to make other dishes. Before buying food, the manager was expected to compare prices at three different stores in order to get the best price and meet the budget (The Phoenix, March 9, 1960).


On July 31, 1970, the College administration approved the house to be a counseling and guidance facility for 1970-1971. The catalog of 1971 changed the name to Counselor Education Center. The renovation was done by Sister Catherine Pressley, Sr. Bernadette Marie Gremillion and Sr. Ancilla Kneipper. The Department of Graduate Education, Counselor Division, under Sr. Catherine Walker, refurnished the house. It was no longer under the Department of Home Economics.


In August 1980, the House was rented to the Berlitz Language School.


The House was renamed to reflect its new function, the Center for Women in Church and Society in 1983.

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