What makes an amorphous space into a particular place and what does the history of this transition reveal? I ask this question with a focus on a colonial-era non-metropolitan city, Allahabad, at its intersection with debates on colonial modernity in northern India. While urban historians have examined a number of important institutions that shaped colonial cities, this paper takes up as the object of its enquiry a somewhat non-traditional institution—a hostel associated with the Allahabad University—the Muslim Boarding House. Based on archival material in Urdu, Hindi, and English like institutional reports, articles, and memoirs of those associated with the university, this paper seeks to understand the role of hostels in the making of Allahabad. Established in 1892 through subscription and fund-raising among the city’s upper-class community, including Hindus, this hostel came into its own against the background of the raging Hindi-Urdu controversy and growing tensions among Hindus and Muslims of the region. What were the effects of the presence of this particular residential community on Allahabad’s identity? How did Islamic identity of the place interact with the non-sectarian vision of the university? How did the activities of this hostel converse with, contribute to, or contradict Allahabad’s renowned “Ganga-Jamuni tahzib”? Most significantly, by shifting attention to a place which is intrinsically part of the city’s quotidian life as well as its enduring educational legacy, this paper seeks to uncover the mutual and dialectical relationship between larger forces of historical change and the specific roles played by place-making activities of institutions.