Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the history behind some of the buildings at Oklahoma State University. I am an alumna of Oklahoma State and spent quite a bit of time in the buildings in this post. I can’t wait to show you more, let’s get started!
*All photos in this post were taken by myself at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The Student Union at Oklahoma State University was completed in 1950 and was part of President Henry Bennett’s campus plan. This extensive 25 year plan included many large building projects.
The construction of the Student Union began in the summer of 1948 and was completed in 1950. The building cost $4.5 million at the time which is equivalent to around $45 million today. President Bennett wanted this building to “enhance students’ social, intellectual and cultural well-being.” (timeline.okstate.edu)
The Student Union celebrated its 25th birthday in 1976 complete with a cake cutting! (There are pictures on timeline.okstate.edu if you’re interested in seeing them.)
The Chi Omega Clock (simply called Chi O Clock) was gifted to OSU in 1970 to celebrate the sorority’s 75th anniversary. It stands in the Student Union Plaza and many people walk by it everyday. You can’t miss it!
A new Student Services Center opened in the Union in 1999 making it the largest student union again!
Extensive renovations started on the Student Union in fall 2009 and lasted until 2012. The project cost $63 million. The North Plaza was added to the building along with a renovated theater, offices, meeting rooms, dining options, and lots of new seating. New wiring, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and elevators were added to make the building safer as well.
In 2013, after the renovations were completed BestCollegeReviews.org stated, “Therefore, it is no surprise that the grand Oklahoma State Union in Stillwater takes the crown for the most amazing and comprehensive student union.”
Go Pokes, right?! The Student Union is still a must see place at OSU! You can do pretty much anything in that building! There’s food, study spaces, student organizations, classes, entertainment, and so much more! Make sure to check it out when you’re in Stillwater!
I loved studying in this building and hanging out with my friends! I have a lot of good memories there 🧡
Edmon Low Library
Edmon Low was named the head librarian at Oklahoma A&M College in 1940 and worked in this position until 1966. “He was considered the ‘dean’ of university librarians in the nation.” (timeline.okstate.edu)
Ground was broken for the new library building in Stillwater in May 1950. Oklahoma State University President Henry Bennett wanted the campus to be built around the library. Bennett and Low toured other university libraries around the United States for inspiration.
The new library opened in 1953 and was one of the five largest open stack libraries in the world when it opened! This meant that patrons could just walk in and look at the books on the shelves.
The library was built in the Williamsburg Georgian style and has recessed ornate arches at the southern entrance (shown in the pictures). The iconic central tower stands 182-feet tall! The library was and is the focal point of the Oklahoma State University campus.
In 1977, the library was re-named to honor Edmon Low. The Edmon Low Library contains over 2 million volumes. The two millionth volume “was a six-volume set titled ‘Indian Tribes of the United States (1851-1857)’ by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, which was donated by longtime friends of the library Joe and Adeanya Hunt.” (timeline.okstate.edu)
Today, the Edmon Low Library is one of the top 100 academic research libraries in the United States. I spent many hours studying, browsing the book shelves, and reading in the Edmon Low Library while I was a student. I loved the atmosphere, the study rooms, and the reading rooms. This library will always hold a special place in my heart 🧡
Named after Frances E. Willard, Willard Hall opened in 1938 as a women’s residence hall at Oklahoma State University. Willard was a known temperance leader and feminist.
Willard Hall sits just north of Theta Pond and is styled in the modified Georgian architecture that is seen all over campus. The building also has a mix of Chinese and Colonial furnishings. Between 1939-1986, around 400 women lived in the dorm each year. A student could rent a room for $7-$14 initially!
From 1986-1995, Willard Hall was used for storage…
In 1995, 9.8 million dollars was invested into renovating the building! Willard Hall was to be the new home for the College of Education. A large lecture hall, modern classrooms, labs, and faculty offices were the major changes made to the building. “A central feature for the new Willard Hall was an upgrade and restoration of the graceful old living room on the first floor that was remembered by generations of students.” (timeline.okstate.edu) This area of building is beautiful and I’m sad that I don’t have a picture to show you… Next, a large patio was added to the southern end of the building overlooking Theta Pond! Weddings and meetings are sometimes held in this space.
Willard Hall is a beautiful building At Oklahoma State University. I attended several meetings there and loved it!
Old Central was the first permanent building that opened on campus in 1894. This building is made out of sandstone and brick masonry. The building was originally called “College Building” or ‘(Old) Central Building’ hence the current name.
The building was condemned in 1921, but it was saved by Henry G. Bennett in 1928. He wanted to refurbish and restore the building. A group of faculty and alumni continued his vision and kept working to save the building. It has undergone numerous renovations to help preserve the building. Old Central was added to the National Register of Historic Places in July 1971!
Today, Old Central is where the Honors College is located. There are classrooms in the basement and a computer lab for honors students. The main floor has offices and the upper floor has a large room.
It’s definitely a cool building to walk through! To see more photos of Old Central and to learn more about its history, read my separate blog post: Old Central @ OSU: Stillwater, OK
Construction on Gundersen Hall began in 1911 and was completed by September 1912. It was originally called the ‘Engineering Building,’ but was later renamed Gundersen Hall to honor the head of mathematics, Carl Gundersen. Gundersen died in 1938. All engineering students for the previous 29 years had sat through at least one of his classes to complete their degrees.
Gundersen Hall is 34,000 square feet and the total cost for the building and equipment was $100,000 in 1912. The first floor had classrooms, laboratories for testing heavy equipment, and a ventilation room. The second floor had a physics laboratory, classrooms, an engineering library, and staff offices for physics and civil engineering. The third floor was used for drafting rooms for the mechanical and architectural departments.
On June 13, 1975, an F3 tornado hit the Oklahoma State University campus causing damage to Old Central, Morrill Hall, and Gundersen. Several other buildings were affected and trees were uprooted.
Today, Gundersen houses the language departments. I visited office hours in the building and had to hang flyers for some club events. It’s a neat building.
Social Sciences and Humanities
The History Department is in this building! I spent many hours in my office and in classes while in grad school in this building!
For more information and historic photos, please watch this video created by Oklahoma State University.
School of Architecture
I love Oklahoma State University so much and I hope you enjoyed learning about the history behind some of the buildings on campus. I have written other posts about Stillwater history that you should check out next. They’re linked below!
- Nancy Randolph Davis Statue at Oklahoma State University
- Thatcher Hall Air Park at Oklahoma State University
- Old Central at Oklahoma State University
- Heritage Hall (OSU Sports Museum)
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078