Stewart Cooperative was founded by nine women on January 14, 1986. The idea for the women’s residence was fueled partly by Fairway, Purdue’s existing men’s Christian cooperative established in 1958. Purdue student Stephanie Smith proposed the initial idea for a women’s Christian cooperative. Her vision became a reality when she discovered the vacant cooperative residence of the recently dissolved Sherman House. Joined by other members of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Stephanie presented her proposal to Purdue. The university granted her request, naming the new cooperative in honor of former Purdue vice president R.B. Stewart and his wife Mary. Vice President Stewart helped found the Purdue Student Housing Corporation, PSHC, in 1935 to provide assistance and a financial resource for the cooperative system.
PSHC contributed significant funds for remodeling the original Victorian-style house on 131 Pierce Street. Members worked hard over the years to transform Stewart into a decidedly feminine residence where women could fellowship as sisters in Christ. When the house was opened, founder Shelly Morton aptly summed up the goals of Stewart saying, “We’re a dry house. That’s something we all feel pretty strongly about. We want to be with people we can sit down with and be dedicated to serving the Lord. We all have basically the same goals, trying to do what’s right and setting aside time for fellowship. We’re also trying to get out on the campus and be a witness.” Those goals have continued to be the basis of Stewart along with an emphasis on the discipleship and spiritual growth of members during their stay.
Change was in the air when Purdue informed Stewart Cooperative of their plans for a new Krannert school of management facility. The prospective site included the land on which Stewart was located. Fortunately, dissolution of another men’s cooperative gave Stewart the incredible opportunity of moving to a larger residence across from Mackey Arena. In the spring of 1999, the women of Stewart began the colossal task of moving to 800 Northwestern Ave. Formerly known as Rochdale Cooperative, the new home for Stewart was a stately castle-like structure, complete with a spacious front patio and majestic great room, situated at the very entrance to Purdue’s campus. Once again the residents have converted their previously male cooperative house into a place of warmth, beauty, and inviting appeal. We are grateful for God’s provision of this prominent and beautiful home for the women of Stewart.