“Simpkins Hall is located just west of Sherman Hall, on the campus of Western Illinois University, and opened in 1939. The building at that time was called the “Training School” or “Lab School.” It was here that Western student teachers, under supervision, practiced teaching in classrooms with actual students. It served as a training school, until the school moved to Horrabin Hall in 1968. Today Simpkins Hall houses the Department of English and Journalism.
…What is historically unique about the construction of Simpkins Hall is that it was built during the Great Depression, a time when unemployment was rampant and construction work was hard to find. The little construction work that did occur was mostly state or federally funded. Work on the building began January 11, 1937, funded by the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the cornerstone was laid on July 13, 1937.
Both the PWA and the WPA were involved with the construction and completion of the Training School. Building records show the PWA involved with the actual building construction and the WPA hiring unskilled laborers on relief, working on the project in a supplementary way. The programs had a significant impact on the region; the construction of the Simpkins Hall/Training School gave numerous area men employment either by the PWA or the WPA for almost two years.”
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