The tower was originally known as Elrond College, an experiment in a new model of student housing. Elrond College, associated with Queen's University, was designed as a non-profit student run co-operative. The brutalist style structure was built to house the college in 1972, and was the first high rise constructed in the historic city of Kingston. The building had 184 apartments and was designed to hold 400 students. The students would pool their labour to keep the building maintained, and would pay towards the substantial mortgage the co-operative took out to build the structure. The residence was named after Elrond, a character in J.R.R. Tolkien's works. In the books, Elrond's home Rivendell is an idealized place of safety and respite.
The Elrond College experiment failed quite dramatically. The initial inhabitants of the building keenly fulfilled their obligation to spend a couple hours each week working on the building, but in later years enthusiasm waned and the building fell into disrepair. The halls went uncleaned, the elevators didn't work and other problems discouraged tenants. The site also quickly became a haven for drugs, boisterous parties, and crime. The college was consistently unable to find enough residents to keep the project financially sustainable, and in 1981 the project ended when the building was sold to private developers. They renamed and refurbished it and it as since operated as a private apartment building.
- "Princess Towers" Queen's Encyclopedia.
- "Kingston's biggest building gets fixup." Espen Larsen. Kingston Whig - Standard. Aug 14, 2001. pg. 2