On March 24, 1914, the Board of Governors of Acadia University in Wolfville announced plans for a Women’s College Residence. The new residence would be home to 50 women plus house several staff members and a matron who would oversee their wellbeing. Optimistically, it was planned to be complete for the new school year in the Fall of 1914, but construction fell behind. This did not deter 44 female students from moving into the residence during the first winter despite the ongoing construction.
Shortly after it opened, the Women’s College Residence gained the nickname of 'Tully.' Tully was reportedly the surname of an unattractive woman who lived in the area, and the male students adopted her name for their system of rating the attractiveness of female students. Under this system, "one Tully" was used to describe those deemed unattractive, with "one-thousand Tullies" being the highest score possible. However, the women in the building soon adopted the name in solidarity against their male peers, and Tully became the common name for the residence.
During the First World War, the number of male students at Acadia decreased but the number of female students increased. By 1916, female students had to be housed in two other buildings on campus. Dividing the female students was deemed to be bad for morale, however, so Tully was renovated to accommodate more women.
The building’s first addition allowed the number of residents to increase to 70 and provided a dining room that accommodated 120. The extension also allocated space for a nurse and hospital rooms. The inclusion of a hospital wing and dining room meant that the women were increasingly separated from the male population of Acadia in their day-to-day lives. The patriarchal values of the time were also reflected in the strict rules regarding when and where the male students could visit the females living in Tully.
Construction on a second addition began in 1926 and turned its L-shaped floorplan into its current U-shape. Thanks to the addition of the West wing, the building was able to house an additional 44 girls. By this time, Tully was also home to the office of the Dean of Women, who oversaw the lives of the women studying at the university. Furthermore, all female students whose families were not residents of Wolfville were then required to reside within university-owned housing, allowing for easier supervision.
In 1927, the Women’s College Residence was officially renamed Whitman Hall in honour of Acadia Governor E. C. Whitman. While the official name of the building changed, its nickname continued to be popular. In fact, "Tully" remained the name of choice, and to this day, is more widely used across campus than its official name, Whitman.
In the summer of 2001 as part of the Acadia Residence Advantage program, Tully underwent a series of renovations to update the building. These renovations included adding individual rather than communal bathrooms; increasing the ceiling height on the third and fourth floors; adding a centralised back entrance to the building; and extending wired internet access, cable hookups, and telephones within the building.
As of 2019, Tully can house 98 women in single and double rooms, and the building features a main lounge, quiet lounge, two kitchens, two television rooms, and two laundry rooms. The building is still an all-female residence, the only one that remains at Acadia University. But thankfully, female students no longer face the restrictions they once did concerning their residence choices, visiting hours, or male visitors.