Men's Hall, University of Nebraska at KearneyMen's Hall, University of Nebraska at Kearney
In 1937, architects McClure and Walker of Kearney were hired to draw plans for a new men’s dormitory on the campus of the Kearney State Teachers College. Planned to house 120 to 140 men, the brick building was planned to be three stories tall, 155 feet long and 77 feet wide. In addition to a large cafeteria and dining hall, which would make up one arm of the first floor of the U-shaped building, the building would include between 60 and 72 sleeping rooms, most of them doubles. A large reception room on the first floor and smaller living rooms on the second and third floors were planned, as well as recreation rooms. The cost of the building was estimated to be $130,000.00. The site selected for the new building was just west of the Green Terrace Hall, facing south on 26th Street.
The U side of the building would be the front, facing south, so that most of the windows in the building would face south, east and west. Interesting features of the building included rounded corners and glass block “bricks” used in the walls of the reception room and the alcoves of the dining hall. A generous fireplace and comfortable lounge seating were offered for the comfort of the students and their guests. Laundry facilities and baggage storage rooms were provided in the basement. Closets measured six feet deep in each of the bedrooms. Two single beds would be provided in each room, with desks and built-in shelves and dressers. The name “Men’s Hall” was approved by the State Board of Education.
Initially, a grant from the PWA for the construction of the dormitory seemed unlikely to be obtained. As a result, the original plans called for it to be paid entirely through dormitory bonds. With the approval of the grant for $72,000.00 given in late June 1938, the project only relied on $88,000.00 from dormitory bonds, and allowed for an additional $10,000.00 to be spent. The additional money was budgeted towards extending water lines and sewer lines and prepare for the operation of the building as a dormitory.
In September 1938, Contractor Henry A. Knutzen began work on the new dormitory. Under the terms of the contract, Knutzen had ten months to complete construction of the building. The structure was the first in Kearney to utilize reinforced concrete beams and pillars to support the floors and roof. The weight of the building rests on the reinforced concrete “skeleton.” The cornerstone for Men’s Hall was laid by three different lodges and Masons from throughout Nebraska on Thursday, November 10th. By late December 1938, the building was almost half completed, with the contractors taking advantage of mild December weather to get ahead on the project. The exterior brick walls were seventy five percent completely erected, and plumbing and other interior work was also being completed. Two weeks later, the building was completely enclosed, and plans for the second week of January called for the building to be completely heated so that interior work could commence.
By July 1939, Men’s Hall was almost completely ready for occupancy. In fact, the first resident, Jack Christiansen of Callaway, had paid a $5.00 breakage fee and his first week’s rent, which amounted to $2.00. In return, he was allowed to choose his room first, selecting room 325. Requests for rooms would be granted in the order in which they were received. All residents were expected to bring eight hand and bath towels, three pillow cases and four sets of sheets. Desk lighting was provided, along with hot and cold running water in every room. Outlets for floor lamps and radios were available in the rooms, but operating a radio yielded an additional fee of 50 cents per month.
Kearney Daily Hub, 15 December 1937. Kearney Daily Hub, 15 January 1938. Kearney Daily Hub, 21 February 1938. Kearney Daily Hub, 30 June 1938. Kearney Daily Hub, 6 September 1938. Kearney Daily Hub, 4 November 1938. Kearney Daily Hub, 22 December 1938. Kearney Daily Hub, 6 January 1939. Kearney Daily Hub, 18 July 1939.
Project originally submitted by Jill Dolberg on September 18, 2015.
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