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Skidmore College

All the reasons why Jonsson Tower is my favorite residence hall

October 22, 2019
by Harry Mooney '21

There are 11 residence options at Skidmore. From traditional halls to our sought-after apartments, more than 90% of students choose to live on campus for a reason. And while each building has its own story and community, I have a personal favorite — Jonsson Tower.

The Jonssons

Let’s start with a little history.

J. Erik Jonsson

J. Erik Jonsson

Jonsson Tower is named for Margaret Jonsson, who was married to former Skidmore Trustee J. Erik Jonsson. Together, they played a major role in Skidmore’s history.

Flash back to the late 1950s and Skidmore is at its old campus in downtown Saratoga Springs. Enrollment was rising and the need for new, innovative facilities was growing. A move was imminent — but where? Cue the Jonssons.

The couple donated the funds to purchase a beautiful property, known then as the Woodlawn Estate, and challenged their friends and peers to imagine a completely new home for Skidmore, a location that would also be home to their daughter, Margaret Jonsson ’60.

Suffice it to say, if it weren’t for the Jonssons, we may not have the campus we know and love today.

Students move in to Jonsson Tower

Lucky first-year students move in to Jonsson Tower.

The size of it

“JoTo,” as those who love it commonly call it, is a central landmark. At 12 stories tall, it’s a recognizable part of the Skidmore skyline. And when it lights up at night, it transforms into a beacon — a comforting sight that reminds you you’re home.

All that height means there’s a lot of space for living, too.

JoTo is home to 202 residential rooms — 68 doubles and 134 singles — and nearly 300 students. You'll likely always have at least one friend who lives there.

The penthouse

JoTo’s 12th-floor penthouse lounge is the highest point in Saratoga Springs. Lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, my favorite hangout and homework spot offers spectacular views of campus, Saratoga and the surrounding mountains and forests. If there’s a better place to watch the sunset around here, I’ve yet to find it.

Sunset from Jonsson Tower

The sky turned pink during this sunset viewed from the JoTo penthouse.

And while you’ll want to take the elevator to get there most days, you may also want to try “hiking” up all those stairs during Outing Club’s annual “Hike JoTo” event. 

Fireworks seen from Jonsson Tower

What other residence hall gives you a view of fireworks like this? (None.)

The resources

This building isn’t just a place to live, it’s also home to some of the most important student services.

Campus Safety is on the ground floor, so if you ever get locked out of your room or lose your Skidmore ID, you don’t even need to leave the building for help.

Health Services and the Counseling Center are both conveniently located on the first floor. It’s nice to know these resources are just a few floors below you.

Skidmore’s WSPN studio, where students take turns hosting their radio shows, is also in JoTo. And whether you’re a current WSPN listener or alum, you know how magical it is to jam in JoTo.

And, it wouldn’t be a story about JoTo without mentioning the vending machines. Hands down, this place absolutely has the best selection of all of the residence halls. 

Jonsson Tower room

Jonsson Tower room

The community

When you mix size, resources and location together, you get a pretty awesome community. In fact, JoTo can sometimes feel like its own special, vertical village.

Some of my closest friends lived directly above and below me, making "Brady Bunch"-like goodnight rounds a regular occurrence.

“What’s happening on the eighth floor?” “Who’s set up in the WSPN studio right now?” “Is anyone in the penthouse?” Walking up and down to various rooms throughout the building feels like exploring a cruise ship.   

While not exclusive to JoTo, our incredible resident assistants also work hard to cultivate a sense of community by hosting floor socials and group meetings to make sure everyone is doing well. Some even oversee special-interest communities housed there, including the global and multicultural communities.

Jonsson Tower

The all-out creative way we live

With so many students living on campus, there’s going to be a place for everyone.

While I’d always known JoTo is my favorite, this sentiment was recently solidified when I walked in at 1:30 a.m. and discovered two students camped out in the elevator playing Uno.

I couldn’t help but laugh to myself and say, “That’s so JoTo.”

About the Author

Harry Mooney

Harry is a junior from North Bridgton, Maine, studying history and philosophy. You will likely find him at the climbing gym, the library, the Adirondack high peaks, or his bird’s eye window seat high up in Jonsson Tower. His favorite building on campus is D-Hall and his favorite color is chartreuse.