Sayles Hall for men was dedicated and formally named on Alumni Weekend, June 14, 1941, and opened in September 1941 as a men's dormitory with accomodations for 134 students. The dormitory also contained a billiard room, gymnasium, and dining hall. The building was designed by Harold O. Fullerton, architect, and built at a cost of $307,000. Purchase of the land and the construction of the building was funded by donations to the Alumni Association, which voted to name the building for then Acting President John M. Sayles, in recognition of his many years of service to the Association. Sayles Hall served as a men's dorm until 1943 when most of the male population had left to fight in WW II. From 1943 through September 1951, Sayles Hall was a women's dormitory, becoming a men's dormitory again in the fall of 1951, only to be converted into a women's dormitory once more in the fall of 1961. Sayles Hall continued to be owned by the Alumni Association until 1966 when it was sold to the State, along with Pierce Hall, for $575,000.00. Funds from the sale of the dormitory were used to establish Alumni Association scholarships.
John M. Sayles (1877-1956), Pd.B., State Normal College, ‘02, served the New York State Normal College/New York State College for Teachers from 1905-1939 as principal of the Model High School, (after 1914 known as the Milne School), director of teacher training, (1920-1939), acting president, 1939-1943, president, (1943-47). As the long time chairman of the Alumni Association's funding arm, the Dormitory Committee of the Benevolent Association, Sayles, with Anna E. Pierce, is widely credited with successfully guiding the fund-raising campaign that purchased the land comprising Alumni Quadrangle and built the first two dormitories on the site, Pierce and Sayles Halls. Vitally interested in strengthening teacher training, Sayles also is credited with planning the fifth year teaching curriculum as a requirement for permanent teacher certification. Sayles was actively involved in planning the post-WW II additions to the campus on Washington Avenue. Unfortunately, his health failed, and he resigned in 1947, before Brubacher Hall and the additions to Draper and Richardson Halls could be built. Sayles served the Benevolent Association until his death in 1956.