Rubelmann House gets a proper send-off

Rubelmann, aka Ruby, was one of the South 40's first dormitories

Rubelmann House residential adviser Michael Land learned a lot about the historic residence hall while planning farewell events for alumni and residents.

First, it almost did not get built.

University lore suggests that university donor Karl D. Umrath cold-called Washington University in St. Louis about making a donation to build dormitories on the South 40. He was bounced from office to office until finally he exclaimed in exasperation, “Just who do I talk to about giving this university a million dollars?”

Land also learned that Maurie Rubelmann died before the dormitory built in her honor opened in 1959. Rubelmann was the sister-in-law of Umrath, an immigrant who worked as a floor sweeper before making his fortune in the cash register business.

Another bit of history: Rubelmann always has inspired fierce loyalty among its residents. “Ruby” has no private bathrooms, spacious study rooms or kitchens for midnight cookie baking. But, the building boasts its own charms — views of the Swamp, windows that slide all the way open and proximity to late-night pizza.

“Frankly, because you have to leave your room to go to the bathroom, people become close,” Land said. “I have a real love for Ruby. I can just walk down the hallway and see what everyone is up to. I maintain it has the best location on the South 40.”

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Junior Michael Land currently serves as a residential adviser at Rubelmann House. His father, Brian, was a Rubelmann RA in 1982.
(Credit: courtesy of WUSTL Archives (3))