125 years of the Dining Hall

The Ormond Dining Hall turned 125 in May this year. Funded by Francis Ormond and opened to great fanfare in 1893, the Dining Hall has been a focus of college life ever since. It has hosted everything from early plays and concerts to the annual Master’s Dance; from the ‘spooning in’ of victorious teams to celebratory formal dinners and even a few pranks. Perhaps most importantly, for over a century it’s been one of the hubs of everyday life in College, where friendships are formed and the Ormond community comes together.

Some memorable moments over the years:

  1. Master John MacFarland’s notebook includes guest lists and notes about catering for the opening of the Dining Hall. Guests at the opening were offered pastries, sweetmeats, shortbread, ‘fancy biscuits’ and cake supplied by the charitable Ladies Work Association.
  2. In 1979, the entire College waited in the darkened Hall in silence before surprising then-Master Davis McCaughey with a sixty-fifth birthday dinner.
  3. In 1953, a baby was born in the kitchen!
  4. The doors into Hall were perhaps Ormond’s most important communication portal for its first century, when notices were posted on them. Today they are still used, if less so.
  5. When Ormond wins an intercollegiate rowing title, the winning crew throw plates at their trophy hung on the somewhat battered south wall of Hall.
  6. The Dining Hall was funded by Francis Ormond. Sculptures of Ormond and his wife Mary beside the main window commemorate his generosity.
  7. In 2013, an episode of MasterChef was filmed here.
  8. In 1983, music band Real Life filmed their hit song ‘Send me an Angel’ in the Hall.
  9. Until the late 1980s, students had a paper lunch ticket that was manually stamped by a ticket attended.
  10. In 1904, a historic dinner was hosted in the Hall to farewell Ormond soldiers going to war. One hundred years later in 2014, another dinner was hosted to commemorate the anniversary.
  11. Until the late 1950s, formal hall was held every evening. Today, the tradition lives on, but on Mondays and Wednesdays.
  12. The College expanded rapidly in its first decades. At the official opening of the Dining Hall three other new facilities were also unveiled: Allen House, a swimming bath and a new kitchen.

Many Ormondians carry lifelong memories of conversations with friends in the Dining Hall. To donate $1,500 for a Dining Hall chair or $10,000 for a Dining Hall table, please contact Peter Edwards.

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