Originally constructed as a men's residence Hall in 1939, Breen-Phillips Hall was named after its benefactors, alumni and brothers-in-law William P. Breen and Frank B. Phillips. It is the only hall with a hyphenated name. During World War II, this hall served as a home for naval officers in training. At one point, the athletic department, including the office of then head football coach Frank Leahy, was located in the basement of Breen-Phillips Hall. In 2014, in recognition of the 75th anniversary of its founding, Pope Francis imparted his Apostolic Blessing on the residents of Breen-Phillips.

Breen-Phillips was numbered among the early women's residences established after the University began admitting women. Residents boast of its convenient location on campus and its structure lends itself to facilitating getting to know each other. The Breen-Phillips Meal Auction, the hall's signature event, raises donations for Meals on Wheels from students bidding to eat with coaches, faculty or other ND notables.

Famous alums include retired astronaut James Wetherbee (1974), a veteran of six space flights.