Living in Xavier Hall as a senior: A reflection

Pamela Aliberti

Pamela Aliberti ’65 received her bachelor’s degree in social sciences, and her master’s degree in counseling & education from Boston University. She has had careers in secondary school education, university administration and human resources. In 2004, she relocated back to Maine and is currently a member of the newly formed Saint Joseph’s College Alumni Council. She can be reached at paliberti@maine.rr.com.

One of the perks of becoming a senior on campus in the 1960s was living in Xavier Hall. Just imagine residing in a Tudor mansion, having a view of Sebago Lake and, on a clear day, the White Mountains. The scenery could be breathtaking!

Living in Xavier was a privilege – something you coveted starting freshman year. The room that I shared with two others was on the second floor in the middle of the building. We had a non-working fireplace and a private bathroom – a welcome change from communal living in St. Joseph’s or Mercy Hall. The hardwood floors were held together by pegs, common for that era. I felt lucky to be able to live there, and I was in awe of the place. I thought of it as a cloistered/private space to live, study, and socialize. It was also conducive to reflection, meditation and introspection.

Given that we were living in the former Verrill estate at a college now run by the Sisters of Mercy, it was expected that manners and decorum would guide our actions. Whenever we entertained a date in Xavier, the unspoken rule of “four feet on the floor at all times” was observed. On special occasions, we would glide down the main staircase and greet our dates. We felt like we were the actress Loretta Young as we made our entrance.

Since Xavier Hall was a showpiece, we often shared the main lounge for special occasions, such as the tea to welcome the incoming freshmen and their parents. Often we would hear our classmate Muriel Michaud McMillan playing the grand piano in the lounge. The music would fill the building.

We had one pay phone for all of us to receive and make phone calls, so it was always challenging to accomplish that during the designated 7-10 p.m. time slot. This was during the years that “Peyton Place” was one of the most popular TV programs, and everyone was glued to the television set on Thursday nights. Friends and loved ones were advised not to call during this time, as it was considered a definite intrusion into our special time to catch up on the lives of Rodney Harrington (Ryan O’Neal) and Allison Mackenzie (Mia Farrow). It was akin to calling someone in the middle of a Red Sox game.

I moved to California in 1971, and on one of my visits back to the campus in the late 1990s, I was delighted to revisit Xavier Hall as the administration building. When I walked by what used to be the Student Lounge, I was surprised to see that it was now the President’s office. As I made my way down the corridor of the second floor, it seemed like just yesterday when we seniors lived there. But then I realized the entire campus could now access that lovely building.

by Pamela Aliberti ’65