A toast to Yost
Yost Hall was being emptied this summer for its coming demise. Adminis-trative offices and the math department are being moved to new locations on campus so that Yost can be razed — probably early in the new year — to make way for the new research building.
No one fears an architectural treasure is being lost. Boxy and basic, brown-brick Yost looks like the utilitarian dormitory it was built to be. Still, the 72-year-old bulwark offers plenty of heart and history to appreciate — while there’s still time.
Yost was the maiden dorm of Case Institute of Technology and a harbinger of change. At the groundbreaking in 1950, CIT president T. Keith Glennan mounted a bulldozer and declared “the beginning of the end of the streetcar era at Case.” A more ambitious school was emerging.
Coupled with the Tomlinson student center next door, Yost was thought to offer a first-rate college residential experience, one that would attract exceptional students from farther afield.
Befitting the personality of Case, the dorm was laboratory planned. Glennan had a test dorm built in Tomlinson and dragooned two students to live in it for 10 days. They went at it like a lab assignment. The room was six inches too long, they determined. Desks should be a bit bigger, to hold drawing boards, and the combination bookshelf-desk lamp could go. According to the May 1951 Case Alumnus, their suggestions saved the project tens of thousands of dollars.
Amenities included free linen service, vending machines with snacks, and phone booths at either end of the hall. A photo from our archives shows 30 exuberant Yosties crammed into one of those phone booths in 1959, when that was a thing to do.
Yost was the first home away from home for many Case alumni. It’s where they made lifelong friends, found help on the physics exam, and got ready for the mixers with St. Luke’s.
At Homecoming, the old dorm is something of a pilgrimage site. You’ll see alumni pause to linger at the entrance on their walk across the Quad. We can only imagine the movie unspooling in their minds — the memories of that younger, more vibrant time in their lives.
This Homecoming, especially, don’t forget to give your regards to Yost.
Robert L. Smith