Pierce Hall was opened in September 1935 as the Women’s Residence Hall. It was designed to house 162 women, providing formal reception rooms, a dining facility, and a gathering room with a stage. In June 1941, at Alumni Reunion, the hall was renamed in honor of Anna E. Pierce, former student, Dean of Women, and a prime mover in the Alumni Association fund-raising campaign that made the building possible. The first dormitory at a New York State school, Pierce Hall was designed by Harold O. Fullerton, architect, and built at a cost $293,000. When New York State refused to fund it, the Alumni Association spent thirteen years raising the sum from alumni and local friends of the College. Pierce Hall was owned by the Benevolent Association until 1966 when it was sold to the State, along with Sayles Hall, for $575,000. Proceeds of the sale of the buildings were used to fund Alumni Association scholarships.
Anna E. Pierce (1866 -1955), was a graduate of the New York State Normal School, class of 1884, for many years the principal of the Primary Department of the model or practice teaching school, and an instructor of elementary education. In 1913 Pierce was appointed the College’s first Dean of Women, a position she held until her retirement in 1933. Pierce was a prominent advocate of dormitories for women both nationally and at the New York State College for Teachers. With John Sayles, she is credited with leading the Alumni campaign to build dormitories at the College. After her retirement she continued to be active in the Alumni Association and was a resident of South Hall, a cottage dormitory.