During the late 1960's and early 1970's the Colleges experienced a shortage in housing and dining facilities due to increased enrollment. In particular, there was a need for a new women's residence for William Smith students. A few alternatives were discussed as how best to address the housing shortage. One option was to purchase the Garden Apartments located on Pulteney St. and convert them into dormitories. A second option was to build a new William Smith dormitory on the McCormick property. At the time it was decided not to purchase the Garden Apartments, but to go ahead with the construction of a new William Smith residence hall.
While the new dormitory was being built they would need a short term solution to the housing shortage. Again, various options were discussed including the rental of 21 of the Garden Apartments, the conversion of Sherrill Hall into a female dormitory along with purchasing and remodeling the Seneca Hotel to house the displaced Hobart students, the conversion of Geneva Hall into a female dormitory, and the construction of minidorms in the Houghton House area along with the expansion of the Houghton House dining hall. Though building a dormitory or minidorms in the Houghton House area was initially appealing to the Planning Committee, it was ultimately decided against due to the fact that it's location would in essence create two separate women's campuses. Instead Geneva Hall was converted into a women's residence to house 46 William Smith students for the year of 1968-1969.
With the immediate housing shortage addressed for 1968-1969, they proceeded with the planning and construction of the new women's residence hall on the McCormick property. The initial plans that were drawn up included 3 units connected via bridges with a future dining hall as well as 2 more houseing units. The units were to be built in phases, with the first phase being completed by September 1, 1969. The first unit was initially meant to house up to 150 female students. Once all of the additional units were completed they would be able to house up to 330 William Smith students.
By building the units in phases the Colleges planned to raise money as needed for the construction of each unit, versus raising the total sum necessary for the entire project all at once. It was believed it would be easier to raise capital gifts in smaller amounts over a longer period of time. Thus, they would start with one unit and add the others in subsequent years as enrollment gradually increased.
Following the completion of the first dormitory unit in 1969 it was discussed whether to continue with the building of the additional units. The acting interim president at the time, Dr. Causey, felt that alternative options should be explored as ways of dealing with the housing shortage. The initial unit had gotten off to a late start and taken longer than anticipated to complete. Again, the colleges needed a more immediate solution. Various ideas were batted about, including the conversion of a male dormitory into a female dormitory and allowing a few Hobart students to live off campus. It was also proposed by a student at the time that they could build or use an existing dormitory as a co-ed dormitory, with alternating floors of men and women. According to the course catalog for 1970, Rees Hall became an all girls dormitory and Potter Hall became a co-ed dormitory. The additional housing units and dining hall were never built.