Photo-Essay — Tower Hall, St. Scholastica – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Photo-Essay — Tower Hall, St. Scholastica – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal


[Photo 1. This photo is the front of Tower Hall, which was the first building on the college’s campus.]

As I began to explore on a quiet, Saturday afternoon, I realized that The College of St. Scholastica’s campus, the campus that I attend class on almost every day, is much more than I ever thought. I had always known that Tower Hall, the oldest structure on the campus, had been built as a result of a group of Benedictine sisters arriving in Duluth, MN in hopes of beginning their own diocese. What I did not experience and realize until my peaceful walk through the historical building was the amount of intricate details and the amount of time it must have taken to include those things while the building was being constructed. What really caught my attention and interest during my little journey was the windows of Tower Hall. It must have been the time I toured the building, which happened to take place while the sun was setting, because the light coming through the stained-glass windows lightened the place like I had never seen. There were so many different colors and shapes being reflected that I knew then that I wanted to focus specifically on the windows within Tower Hall for this photo-essay.


[Photo 2. This photo is of the window found on the first floor of the library. The glass is very colorful and appears to be the colors similar to that of a sunset.]


[Photo 3. This photo is of the stained-glass window found on the third floor of the library. The woman [Saint Scholastica?] in the window is often referred to as “Our Lady, Queen of Peace”.]

As I thought about what the stained-glass windows may have meant to the sisters that started the school, I remembered why they traveled here in the first place and that helped me come up with some possible theories. I believe the windows were made mainly for religious reasons since several of them included portraits of saints that were women. This could have been a way for the sisters to show God their love and loyalty to him since creating such windows could have served as daily reminders of God as the nuns walked past them. Also, I think it is important to note that the people in these windows were often females, which the sisters could have created with the purpose of showing the strength that women embody. Since this building was constructed at a time when women did not have many of their own rights, I believe this was a way for them to say to the world that women could create amazing and powerful things, just as men were able to during this period of history.


[Photo 4. This photo is of one of the windows found on the doors that lead into the “Our Lady, Queen of Peace Chapel”.]


[Photo 5. This photo is of a panel of stained-glass window that is found in the doorway leading from Tower Hall into the hallway that leads to the chapel.]


[Photo 6. This photo is of one of the stained-glass windows that can be found on the third floor of the library. The color palate is very bright and noticeable to the eye.]

A photo-essay is different than a typical essay because it allows the reader to interpret a lot more on their own, compared to strictly reading the thoughts of the author. I think it is interesting how looking at photos of something can cause people to feel different emotions and have different experiences versus someone else who may not have had those similar reactions. I think it is good to mix things up and look at photo-essays once in a while because it stimulates your brain differently than if you were reading an essay, and also challenges you to think abstractly. I genuinely enjoyed walking around The College of St. Scholastica’s campus and the sense of peace looking at the stained-glass windows was able to bring me. [From Professor Liang’s Spring 2015 World History II class.]


[Photo 7. This photo is of one of the stained-glass windows that can be found on the third floor of the library. The blue and yellow colors are now the official colors of the college.]


[Photo 8. This photo is of the stained-glass wall that can be found right inside the chapel. ]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at)

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at)


Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

30 responses to “Photo-Essay — Tower Hall, St. Scholastica – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

    • Maria Nowak

      This is a cool photo essay to look through. The windows are one of my favorite structures on campus, and I feel that they make Scholastica unique in its beauty. They tell a story by themselves, and though there was a specific reason behind each window structure, the observer has the ability to interpret it however they see fit. I liked your observation behind the reasons for all the women made into the window. I agree that I think this helps show how women, though not always portrayed as strong and independent back then, were still powerful and inspiring. Do you think that is why many of the statues around campus are also women? How do you think men might react to these facts?

  1. Camila Garcia

    I really enjoyed watching all the pictures that you have in the essay! Also, I really like your analysis of picturing women in the stained glass. Is amazing how can art empower women in ways as powerful as other sources.

  2. Samantha Roettger

    I like the part on the analysis of women portrayed in the windows and how that was going against social norms at the start of the 20th century. Also, speaking as a Catholic, stained glass windows are a symbol to letting the natural light of God inside. God’s presence is shinning through the stained glass windows into our college. Very interesting article! You could go even deeper and write a photo essay on the Chapel itself. There are many forms of art and symbols in the Chapel that would be interesting to look into.

  3. Mike Lehmann

    Tower Hall truly is a one of a kind place. I have never looked into it as detailed as you have here in this article, but I always felt that there was something special about this place. I think that your intrigue and exploration shows us that everything and every place have a unique story all their own, and that it is up to us to discover that story for our selves. Awesome article.

  4. Chelsey L

    Wow I really like the photos you took! I have never seen some of them before! I like how you make the connections and very good article.

  5. Carley Henning

    Very good analysis of Tower Hall. It’s amazing what we can walk by everyday and not even notice all the wonders that this building holds. Very good pictures as well!

  6. Kaitlyn Young

    I like that you chose to write about the windows. I love walking through the hallway that leads from tower towards the chapel when the sun is shining in through the windows. It’s such a beautiful sight. I’ll definitely start paying attention to the other windows on campus, now! Great job.

  7. Evangelista Chicheko

    I really enjoyed reading your close analysis of the windows and the women who are in it. Art is amazing isn’t it? Tower hall is such a beautiful structure with interesting history behind it.

  8. Karn Pederstuen

    I was also interested in some of the windows found throughout Tower Hall. I also agree that even though I walk past this beautiful architecture everyday, I don’t stop to appreciate it or interpret it’s significance.

  9. Kendra Johnson

    I think it’s amazing how people can look at or walk by the same things everyday and notice or pick up on different details. I never knew or thought about the windows like this before but know that I’ve read this, I know I’ll notice it! Very interesting paper!

  10. David Miller

    Tower hall was a major reason I decided to attend this college, because once I walked through the building I felt so at home. Indeed the windows are a thing of beauty and i really like what Mike commented above saying Tower Hall is one of a kind and i totally agree.

  11. Bao Vang

    I enjoyed the section about the big stained glass window and your thoughts on why it was built. The way you incorporate the idea of portraying females, especially those who were saints. I did write about this window in my essay but I did not see it was a way to portray female figures at the college. So reading your perspective has really impacted my views on how I see the window now.

  12. Donovan Chock

    Wonderful essay! I like the interesting point you make about how the windows can also serve as reminders for the sisters and students. It reminds me of when I was younger; I asked my grandpa why we go to church every Sunday if we think we already know the main point. He said that it’s a reminder for us. Perhaps something as seemingly simple as a window could have the a similar purpose and affect as a sermon. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Morgan Young

    It is amazing that CSS, a very popular college, was founded by women. It is also interesting how much respect these women were granted, especially during their time when women were not very well viewed. I have noticed how detailed and intricate Tower Hall is, especially with the stained glass windows. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Tyler Winkelman

    Tower Hall is a beautiful place to be, especially during the day when the sun shines through! It has an amazing history from all the men and women who have been here over the past 100 years. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Emily Schiro

    The stained glass windows are beautiful in Tower. I think a lot of the students that attend don’t necessarily take the time like you did to search for something so stunning about our campus and take the time to think about the history behind it. Your essay may help inspire people to now take a walk around and see what else the college has to offer.

  16. Becca

    This is very well written! I always love when I have an hour or two between classes so I can fully enjoy how beautiful the campus is. There are things that I’m still discovering around campus, and they’re always fun to find! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  17. Austin Kindt

    Even though I am not Catholic I really appreciate the intricate detail that was put into the masterwork of building Tower Hall. It seems like our society has lost this sense of beautiful architecture as it has been replaced with the “modern look.” If I could ever afford to have a house built with stone I would and of course there would have to be large windows with at least one that is stained glass, as they beautifully reflect light. Thanks for this article as we often take for granted whats right in front of us!

  18. Hannah Kunde

    It is interesting hearing you talk about the college I’ve going to for 3 years and finding that I know very little about its history. Some of the pictures I easily recognized and others I did not. I think photo essays can say a lot where words can not and this seemed very successful. Although the science building is more recent, what do you think of some iconic pictures would be for a photo essay?

  19. Ada

    I really enjoyed how you chose to analyze glass windows! It’s really interesting to see the things people gravitate towards when taking pictures. I wonder if that blue and yellow window was placed in the library before or after the school made those colors the official ones.

  20. This is a cool idea for NSR submissions. And one that doesn’t require travel. I’m impressed with the level of preservation the CSS community has invested in the stained glass windows. That seems to be a trend among old structures. I don’t think stained glass is nearly as popular as it once was. I wonder why that is.

  21. Interesting choice of windows to photograph. I wonder how these objects were meant to reflect the personality of St. Scholastica, of its sisters, and the ideas of the institution as a whole. I would like to see a follow-up on deeper ideas, if you can have a chance to do so. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Andy Lawrence

    This is a great essay. I really liked how you analyzed the glass windows and the beauty that they represent. It really makes you think what this school means and represents to all of us as students and the faculty and the sisters.

  23. I love art and think it is spectacular that there is so much of it around campus. I especially think it’s intriguing to read about artists that put their passions and hard work into a physical form. I like seeing this collection of photos together as I often don’t find myself with a lot of free time to explore and admire the stained glass in Tower as much as I would like to. Thank you for putting this together!

  24. Michel Doege

    Walking through tower everyday I feel as though I pass over a lot of the work that has gone into making it. Seeing that you took the time to appreciate the craftsmanship and artwork in tower makes me want to go walk back through it to see it in a different light. I am sure that it must have a much greater meaning to the sisters too. The idea of a photo essay is also very cool and something I might try now in the future, thank you for sharing!

  25. Thomas Landgren

    I really like the idea of a photo essay, the reader gets to experience a lot more when looking at the pictures than they would if they were only reading about them. It is sad though cause I have been at Scholastica for two years now and I seem to not pay any attention to the beautiful art that makes up our school. I feel like now that i have read about these pieces of art I have to go and look for them and other examples like them around campus. Great Article!

  26. Katie Peterson

    I love stained glass windows, probably from seeing light shine through the windows in my church when I was a kid. I love the details in the windows and architecture around Tower Hall, but it is easy to pass by quickly and not notice the small things. Recently, I went to the library and studied in front of the large window, “Our Lady, Queen of Peace.” I thought about how lucky I am to attend this gorgeous school, and how thankful I am for the Sisters that started it. It is so wonderful you walked through Tower Hall when the light was perfect to appreciate the windows. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures!

  27. Shelby Olson

    Whenever I think of stain glass windows, I almost always see them in some sort of religious context; more specifically in churches. In my family’s home, we has two stain glass windows and couple of the stain glass light fixtures. Since my house was presumably built around the same time as CSS, I wonder if this was more so typical of the time than the religious context. Regardless, I find stain glass to be incredibly beautiful, especially with how the light hits them and can make the colors bounce across a room. I also have so much respect for the people who create stain glass because of the complex process of pairing colored glass together and the various meanings they can hold. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful photos and insights.

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