Buildings at the University

Mankato Normal School, 1920

By: Win Grundmeier

You may wonder how the names were assigned to the various buildings on campus at Minnesota State University, Mankato and its predecessors.  Most all the names concerned persons connected in some way with the school.  The first building used by Mankato Normal School in 1868 was the Shaubut Building on South Front, a privately owned structure belonging to Mankato merchant, John J. Shaubut.  Old Main on 5th Street was built soon after by 1870.  The Ladies Dormitory, built in 1913, was named Daniel Buck Hall in honor of Judge Daniel Buck of Mankato, who served on the College Board.  An addition to the dorm came along in 1921, called Cooper Center, in honor of Charles Cooper, President from 1899 to 1930.  The Men’s Dorm came into existence by 1952 and was named in honor of Edward Searing, President from 1880 to 1898.

Still on Lower Campus, Nichols Hall, first phase was completed in 1952, and second phase in 1960.  Marvin A. Nichols, Chemistry Instructor, died tragically in 1938 as a result of an accident in the chemistry laboratory.  The Lincoln Library opened in 1958, named for U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.  Larger-than-life statue of Old Abe graced the halls of Old Main and the Student Union.

Moving to Upper Campus, the first classroom building there was Nelson Building in honor of Maurice J. Nelson, Industrial Arts Instructor from 1918 to 1959.  The Wilson Campus School opened in 1959. Presumably it was named for U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, in keeping with Mankato’s policy of naming its early schools after American Presidents.  The Armstrong Building came into existence about 1967 and was named for Grace Armstrong, Professor of Education.  Gage Towers, dating to 1965 as Women’s Dormitories, was named for George M. Gage, first Principal (the early designation for College  President) from 1868 to 1872.  Men’s Dorms were named for Frank D. McElroy, President from 1930 to 1946, and Clarence L. Crawford, President from 1946 to 1965.  The recently built Dormitory was named for Julia Sears, the first female Principal of the Normal School from 1872 to 1873.

Trafton Science Center, the largest structure in the MNSCU system, was named for Biology Professor Gilbert Trafton.  It was completed in 1972.  Attached to Trafton are Wissink and Ford Halls.  The former was named for Physics Professor Gerrit M. Wissink, whose tenure ran from the 1940s to the 1970s.  Recently built Ford Hall   honors Leonard A. Ford, Professor of Chemistry and Chairman of the Science and Mathematics Division from 1939 to 1967.


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