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Saint Mary’s students celebrate College history

Alicia Smith | Wednesday, January 26, 2011

As a continuation of the celebration of Heritage Week at Saint Mary’s College, students met for tea in Riedinger House, the residence for official friends of the College who visit campus.

Tea was offered at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday. The event was restricted to 25 students per session, said Kara O’Leary, director of Alumnae Relations.

Students were provided with fresh fruit and cookies, as well as soft drinks, tea and water.

At the sessions, students had the opportunity to learn about Saint Mary’s College history, particularly about the Alumnae Association and Riedinger House.

The event was part of Saint Mary’s College Heritage Week, which celebrates the history and founding of the College.

O’Leary detailed the history of the creation of the Alumnae Association.

“During the early days of the Association, the alumnae worked closely with the sisters, and then every two years [came] to visit with old friends and to watch the progress of the current students,” she said.

O’Leary said the Association was the oldest Catholic women’s alumnae group in the United States. The group is the seventh oldest alumnae association for women’s colleges in the United States.

The Alumnae Association began in June 1879 as a way for graduates of the College, then called Saint Mary’s Academy, to reunite.

“The stated purpose was, ‘to preserve the bond of affection existing between our alma mater and her children,'” O’Leary said.

Since that time, the Alumnae Association expanded and now includes more than 18,500 members with 60 different clubs, O’Leary said.

O’Leary also said the Riedinger House played an interesting role in College history.

“The house was built in 1939, and it was the practice house for Home Economics majors,” she said.

Students lived in the house for a semester to learn how to manage a budget, plan meals, buy food, cook, keep house and entertain guests, O’Leary said.

O’Leary said the house was named after Adaline Crowley Riedinger, the first alumna to have her daughter graduate from Saint Mary’s College.

“The Riedinger family donated the major portion of the funds for the construction of the house,” she said.

According to O’Leary, the interior of the house was designed on 7/8th scale in order to save money during construction. The house cost around $21,000 to build, with $4,500 used for equipment such as the refrigerator, sewing machine and stove.

The house now houses official guests of the College when they visit campus.

Sophomore Meghan Feasel gave students a tour of the house.

Events continue throughout the week including the Heritage tour and tour of the convent at noon and 2 p.m. and Moreau Dinner held in the Nobel Family Dining Hall from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 pm. Wednesday. The Heritage Dinner will be held in Stapleton Lounge in Le Mans Hall from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, and s’mores and a meet-and-greet with the Sisters of the Holy Cross will take place at 2 p.m. in the Lillie O’Grady Room Friday. Heritage week will conclude with the All School Formal on Saturday.