Buildings and Architecture

We have splendid dormitories in which the students live, a new dining hall whose beauty cannot be excelled, a gymnasium whose floor space is 2728 feet, and other buildings containing classrooms and laboratories…

– WCSA Admissions Material, 19181F.A. Stever, Registrar to Prospective Female Students, Morris, MN, July 30, 1918, University Archives, Rodney A. Briggs Library, University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris, Minnesota.

Because the 1910’s was a decade of growth for the West Central School of Agriculture, many of the now-current and prominent buildings on the University of Minnesota, Morris campus were built during this time. Five buildings stood on the campus in 1909 at the closure of the Federal Indian Boarding School–a building known as The School House, which was a multipurpose building used for the Indian Boarding School; a Boys Dormitory and a Girls Dormitory; the hospital; and the laundry.2Steven Granger, “Historic Buildings of the West Central School of Agriculture Converted to Use by the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1960,” University of Minnesota, Morris, Plant Services (1998), 3, http://2010.morris.umn.edu/docs/Hist_Bldgs_of_WCSA.pdf (accessed March 19, 2015). The West Central School of Agriculture inherited these buildings to make up the newly created academic institution on its grounds.

Girls Dormitory from the east

With only five main buildings, the West Central School of Agriculture was in dire need of new facilities. Once a substantial amount of money was appropriated by the State of Minnesota, the new Girls Dormitory was completed in 1912 and the new Boys Dormitory was completed in 1913, both at the cost of $50,000.3Ibid., 10, 12. The newly constructed boys dormitory was also known as Spooner Hall; it was named for local legislature Lewis C. Spooner, who was heavily involved in lobbying to convert the abandoned Indian School into the West Central School.4Ibid., 12. The two new dormitories were just the beginning of a building boom that helped to transform the West Central School of Agriculture into a respectable educational institution. Between 1912 and 1930, ten buildings went up on the campus, redefining the entire layout and design of the campus.5Ibid., 5. All were designed by Architect Clarence Johnson, who intentionally designed all the buildings in a modest style, inspired by Twentieth Century Craftsmen and Prairie-School designs. 6Ibid., 6-7.

The Boys and Girls dormitories from the Indian Boarding School continued to be used as living spaces until The new Girls and Boys Dormitories were built in 1912 and 1913, respectively.  At this point, both the old Boys and Girls Dormitories were converted into academic buildings–agronomy was housed in the old boys dormitory and Home Economics was housed in the old girls dormitory. The School House was converted into an administration building–and was also used as a dormitory for a time. The hospital and laundry buildings stayed as they were for the time being.7Ibid., 4.

Another academic building, the Engineering Building, was constructed in 1915, marking the third on-campus building built specifically for the West Central School of Agriculture. It cost the state $26,200.8Ibid., 13.  The Dining Hall–which also housed the campus Gymnasium on the second floor–followed in 1918, constructed at the cost of $80,000 from the Minnesota legislature.9“A History of the West Central School of Agriculture, Institute of Agriculture, University of Minnesota,” West Central School of Agriculture, Mocassin 1962 Yearbook: Volume 50, Golden Final Edition (Morris, MN, Graduating Class of 1962), 48, Stevens County Historical Society, Morris, Minnesota. The School House building from the Indian Boarding School days was torn down in April of 1918, at the time that the new Dining Hall was being constructed.10Morris Tribune (Morris, MN), April 25, 1918. Senior Hall, a new dormitory, was completed in 1920 to accommodate the ever growing student population on campus. The Agricultural Hall was built in 1921, The Infirmary followed in 1923, and Junior Hall, another dormitory, followed in 1926.11 “West Central Reminiscences,” West Central School of Agriculture, Mocassin 1928 Yearbook, (Morris, MN: Graduating Class of 1928, 1928), University Archives, Rodney A. Briggs Library, University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris, Minnesota, and Stevens County Historical Society, Morris, Minnesota. These buildings not only defined the West Central School of Agriculture as an educational institution, but continue to remain as prominent architecture on the current University of Minnesota, Morris campus today.

The expansion of the campus through architecture during this time period serves as a further reminder that, while the WCSA was experiencing the Great War in its own unique way, it was also growing and changing extensively as an educational institution. This was a period of growth for the WCSA; as the buildings went up, the campus continued to make strides of growth in the first few years of its existence. The War in Europe did not stop the West Central School of Agriculture from expanding; in fact, the war probably assisted in its expansion–as a push for agricultural education was increased in its wake.

 

WCSA HistoryWCSA and the WarWCSA and the Spanish Influenza


Image Citations:

1. “Girls Dormitory from the East,” n.d., Stevens County Historical Society, Morris, Minnesota.

References   [ + ]

1. F.A. Stever, Registrar to Prospective Female Students, Morris, MN, July 30, 1918, University Archives, Rodney A. Briggs Library, University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris, Minnesota.
2. Steven Granger, “Historic Buildings of the West Central School of Agriculture Converted to Use by the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1960,” University of Minnesota, Morris, Plant Services (1998), 3, http://2010.morris.umn.edu/docs/Hist_Bldgs_of_WCSA.pdf (accessed March 19, 2015).
3. Ibid., 10, 12.
4. Ibid., 12.
5. Ibid., 5.
6. Ibid., 6-7.
7. Ibid., 4.
8. Ibid., 13.
9. “A History of the West Central School of Agriculture, Institute of Agriculture, University of Minnesota,” West Central School of Agriculture, Mocassin 1962 Yearbook: Volume 50, Golden Final Edition (Morris, MN, Graduating Class of 1962), 48, Stevens County Historical Society, Morris, Minnesota.
10. Morris Tribune (Morris, MN), April 25, 1918.
11. “West Central Reminiscences,” West Central School of Agriculture, Mocassin 1928 Yearbook, (Morris, MN: Graduating Class of 1928, 1928), University Archives, Rodney A. Briggs Library, University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris, Minnesota, and Stevens County Historical Society, Morris, Minnesota.

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