The college constructed Peterson Hall as one of the first two buildings during J. Lawrence Walkup's presidency, a period of post-WWII campus-wide expansion. It named the hall for Andrew C. Peterson, a political science and education faculty member. The residence hall opened in 1960 as a dormitory for male students.
Frequently called Peterson Hotel, students knew the dorm for its occupants' penchant for mischief. In 1980, Peterson residents began an annual lip-sync concert known as the Peterson Jam, which lasted until 1991 as a campus event.
In 2004, Peterson became home to a variety of offices and programs, including the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, Ecosystem Science & Society Center offices, and offices for English and History graduate teaching assistants.