John Bellairs Wiki
John Bellairs Wiki

The College of Saint Teresa was a Catholic women's college in Winona, Minnesota. Founded as a women's seminary, it became a college in 1907 and ceased operations in 1989. John Bellairs taught here between September 1963 and spring 1965.   


The Milwaukee School Sisters of Saint Frances purchased land in western Winona, and on December 15, 1886, the Archbishop of Saint Paul, John Ireland, dedicated the building for Saint Mary's Academy.  Later, following additions, it became Saint Mary's Hall, the first building of the College of Saint Teresa[1].

In 1888, the property was transferred to Archbishop Ireland, with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet opening a hospital in Saint Mary's Hall in the summer of 1888; it closed after a few months.  Two years later Archbishop Ireland transferred the title of the property to Bishop John Cotter, bishop of the newly-formed Diocese of Winona.  In 1894, Cotter in turn sold the land to the Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes who named the campus the Winona Seminary for Ladies.  First classes were September 4, 1894, with 59 students[1].

College work for Sisters began at the Winona Seminary in 1907[2], with lay students admitted to college courses in 1909.  In February 1912, the Sisters of of Saint Francis of Our Lady of Lourdes sent out a formal announcement that from then on the institution would be known as the College of Saint Teresa[1].


An aerial of the College of Saint Teresa campus. Lourdes Hall is the large dormitory at the far left, with Saint Cecilia and Teresa halls standing in the upper right.

Saint Cecilia and Teresa Halls were constructed in the early 1910s, with Lourdes Hall, its first dormitory, opening in 1928.  The campus eventually expanded to eleven buildings over 70 acres of land.

The first commencement of college graduates was in 1914, the same year its yearbook, the Aldine, was published.

In 1920 a nursing program was added[3]. The college's first Bachelor of Arts degree in Nursing was conferred in 1928; the Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 1946[4]. Throughout the years the college's strongest area of study was nursing, having begun at the request of the prestigious Mayo Clinic in nearby Rochester. Its proximity allowed students to get first-hand experience in the medical field.


By the late 1960s enrollment would exceed 1,300 women but, following the changes stemming from the Second Vatican Council, nuns across the country left their orders which meant hiring more expensive lay faculty[3].

Student enrollment suffered, too, as the nearby men's college, Saint Mary's College (now Saint Mary's University of Minnesota), became coeducational in 1969.  Competition for students was intense between the two colleges and later on Saint Teresa's did admit some men on a commuting basis but the institutions did not collaborate on shared semester schedules or course work like other pairs of men/women Catholic colleges had done in the same era.

Unable to compete or survive, the college graduated its last class in the spring of 1989.


Buildings on campus are now individually-owned by Winona State University, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, and Cotter High School (a private Catholic school). The Alumnae Association of the College of Saint Teresa maintains an office on campus in the former Tea House.

Part of a series about
College of Saint Teresa
Easter Address to the Faculty by the President of a Catholic Women's College

Bellairs On Campus


The Sisters of Saint Francis that owned the college formed about one-third of the faculty with the rest being lay faculty, usually of a Catholic background, hired as at any other college.

As a full-time instructor of English, Bellairs probably had a course load of four or five sections of courses, amounting to approximately 12 to 14 hours per week of classroom instruction. He taught the "History and Structure of the English Language" course, which was an upper division course, and at least one section of the Freshmen English yearlong course, "English Composition and Readings". The readings in this later course began with selection from the Greek and Roman classics, moved though selections from the Renaissance (Dante and Shakespeare) and major genres, such as the novel, and ended with selection from American literature. The aim was to teach students how to write acceptable prose as well as to acquaint them with the Western cultural tradition. Other assignments are unknown, though he may have taught one or two sections of the English literature survey course. Geier does not recall Bellairs's attitude toward teaching during this time, suggesting that because it was his first full-time position, he probably engaged in it with some enthusiasm[5]. Murphy echoes these sentiments, saying on the whole Bellairs was interested and dedicated to teaching[6].

Bellairs did assign Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles to one of his classes. "I told him that I didn't think that this particular work would be too well received by a class of young women, and he had to admit that I was right.[7]"

Academic Writing

The English department, though small, was quite published outside the realm of Winona. The chair of the English department, Sister Bernetta Quinn (1915-2003), was known for her scholarly articles, poetry, and book reviews.

Bellairs also joined "the baroque process of academic publishing[6]" with "Variations on a Vase", an extended essay analyzing John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" as viewed by three Keats scholars. Surprisingly, Bellairs's essay was published in the Southern Review of Adalaide, South Australia, in late 1965. A second piece, "An Anatomy of Abuses: Why Bad Poetry is Bad" was published in the winter 1965 edition of the college's literary journal, the Censer.

Speech and Drama

The college had a strong speech and drama department, producing theatrical performances ranging from Greek classics to contemporary musicals.  As the college was women-only, men from outside the student body were enlisted for male roles.  When it wasn't possible to find participants from the nearby Saint Mary's or Winona State College, male faculty members - such as Bellairs - were either recruited or volunteered.  The department scored a major coup by staging the first college production in the country of "My Fair Lady" in March 1964[4].

Bellairs was seemingly introduced to the department early on as he modeled costumes - including one worn by actor Rex Harrison - during an October 1963 campus lecture on the history of theater. He had roles in at least four performances, enjoying the chance to act and ham it up on stage[6].

Bellairs may have had a role in Jean Giraudoux's "The Madwoman of Chaillot"[5] but nothing is known of this production during his time on campus.

Faculty & Staff

These people were associated with the college during Bellairs's time on campus:

  • Norbert Geier
  • William Goodreau
  • John E. Marzocco
  • John Murphy
  • Robert E. Oram
  • Richard J. Weiland
  • Eileen Whalen

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Design in Gold: A History of the College of Saint Teresa (1957).  Sister M. Bernetta Quinn.
  2. Aldine, p. 113. The College of Saint Teresa, 1967.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Pieces of the Past: Celebrating Winona's First 150 Years".  Erin Chistenson, Winona Daily News (2001).
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The College of Saint Teresa Celebrating 100 Years".  Frances Muraine Bowler Edstrom, Winona Post (Jul. 4, 2007).
  5. 5.0 5.1 Correspondence with Norbert Geier (2001).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Correspondence with John Murphy (2003).
  7. Correspondence with Alfred Myers.