To ensure student retention, and to eliminate the threat of campus community factions, it was decided that the College needed to erect a building that would house 150 - 200 male students, provide club rooms, banquet rooms, and guest rooms. The community was ecstatic to hear this news, and The Campus stated “Allegheny’s best days are yet to come.” Allegheny College found a donor for this residence hall in Sarah Cochran. Deemed “The Lady-Elect of Old Allegheny,” she was the first woman Trustee of the College and held this position from 1908 until her death in 1936.
During the first week of May in 1905, classes halted and all students processed from Ford Chapel, in class order, to aid in the groundbreaking ceremony for Cochran Hall. Each class had an opportunity to ceremoniously move earth during this event. On April 23 1908, Cochran Hall was dedicated with much pomp and circumstance. During the ceremony, Sarah Cochran’s message to students was: “Tell them I think they are all perfectly lovely. I am so glad to give this nice building to such a splendid company of young men, and I want all the students to enjoy it always.”
At the time, it was the most expensive building on campus with construction costs totaling about $65,000. It is hard to remember that it was intended as a dormitory since it offered so many other spaces. Each of the two floors plus the basement provided 9,600 square feet on each floor, for a total of 28,800 square feet. A superstructure of red brick, trimmed with terra cotta, stood atop five feet of range-work of Berea stone. On the first floor, the main entryway was constructed in an Old English style, while the dining room on the southern portion of the first floor is in an Italian Villa style. This floor also contained a kitchen and a small eating club on the northern side of the building. The second floor ultimately contained housing for 30 men, including two guest suites. The basement contained a recreation room that was equipped with a shuffle board and two bowling alleys, as well as a YMCA, which had its own separate entrance.
Throughout the life of the building, it has had many uses. Cochran Hall has served as a fine dining hall, the Sociology and English departments, Allegheny Student Government, 90.3 WARC (Allegheny College Radio), the College post office and bookstore.
Today, Cochran Hall is the home of Allegheny College’s Alumni Affairs and Development offices. In 2004-2005, with a gift from Patricia Bush Tippie ’56 and Henry B. Tippie, Cochran Hall was returned to its original opulence, Sarah Cochran’s dream of wanting “students to enjoy it always” can be lived to its truest potential.