Decades after the University of St. Thomas went coed, the little barbershop in its basement remained a boys' club.

That's one reason why Hairworks recently closed.

It will be replaced by a full-service salon in the new Anderson Student Center, which is set to open in January.

The closure has saddened longtime clients who first got clipped as college freshmen and continued stopping by.

At one point, three generations of Prof. Thomas Connery's family got their hair cut by Hairworks' longtime barber, Bill Weston. Connery started frequenting the barbershop after starting at St. Thomas in 1982. When Connery's son got of a haircutting age, he brought him in. A student newspaper staffer heard a scream and sent over a photographer.

"We have, for posterity, a photo of that first haircut," Connery said.

Weston headed the barbershop for most of its history, which he says extends long before he began in 1971.

"When women were first admitted to St. Thomas in 1977," a 2006 Star Tribune article said, Weston "had to learn some new tricks ... But over the years, his customers have remained about 90 percent male."

Weston retired in 2006, and barber Zac Pease took charge. About a year ago, Pease brought in a stylist in an attempt to attract more women.

"It was slow," he said. "It's not where the girls want to go. It's not the high-end salon."

So when St. Thomas said that the new spot in the student union must better cater to women, with manicure and pedicure equipment, Pease found the potential $15,000 price tag too risky. "I had no problem with what they wanted me to do," Pease said, "but I wasn't sure I should have to pay for it."

St. Thomas is selecting a new tenant.

A woman quoted by the student-run news website said she's excited that the new spot will have nail service.

Connery said he doesn't know whether he'll try the place out: "I'm not sure where I'm going to get my next haircut."

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168