UNION UNIVERSITY, JACKSON, TN
Union University traces its Jackson, TN roots to the founding of Jackson Male Academy in 1823. The campus, located between College Street and Lexington Avenue in East Jackson would house higher education for a century and a half. Jackson Male Academy would eventually become West Tennessee College, before being purchased by Tennessee Baptists to establish Southwestern Baptist University. Renamed Union University in 1907, the school remained on the East Jackson campus until 1976 when it moved to its current location in North Jackson.
College Hall was the original building of West Tennessee College. Built in 1847, it was occupied by Federal troops during the Civil War. It housed faculty offices, classrooms, science labs, the library and reading room.
Powell Chapel was completed in 1899. The second floor housed meeting rooms for the literary societies and fraternities. The first floor consisted of the President's office and the auditorium.
BURNED JANUARY 20, 1912
College Hall and Powell Chapel were completely destroyed by fire on January 20, 1912. Quick thinking on the part of faculty and students saved most of the library collection and some of the laboratory equipment.
Barton Hall, completed in 1913, replaced College Hall as the main administration and classroom building, In addition, a wing to the rear housed the new chapel. College catalogs from the era are intentional to note "These buildings are amply protected from fire by a six-inch fire line connection to the city mains, supplying four fire hose inside the buildings and our own private hydrant in the center of the campus."
As the university grew and needed more classroom space, some departments found new homes following World War II.
After Union left the East Jackson campus, Barton was also destroyed by fire in the late 1970s.
When Barton was torn down after the fire, the time capsule, placed in the cornerstone in 1912, was recovered. The contents, in addition to newspapers and official items, included hastily scrawled names of construction workers and others present.
Adams Hall was the first dorm built by Southwestern Baptist University. Until then, students boarded in local homes. Adams opened in 1895 to house men. Dorm life was perhaps not too different then from what it is now. The following statement appeared in the 1898-99 catalog, just three years after the dorm first opened. "Experience further convinces us that young men who wish the advantages of W. T. Adams Hall should sign a pledge to conform with the regulations of the house, looking to quietness and good order. No young man of immoral conduct or rude and boisterous behavior will be allowed to remain in the Hall."
The wing to the rear of Adams Hall became known as jackleg alley for all the jackleg (e.g. lacking training) preachers who lived there.
A fire in front part of Adams Hall in 1918 resulted in a modified roof line. Balconies were also removed at some point. Turret rooms were reportedly the largest and in the most demand.
In the 1960s, jackleg alley was torn down and new rear entrance constructed. This was the final renovation on Adams Hall. it was torn down in 2011.
Lovelace Hall was built in 1897 to house women. Lovelace was the first campus building to have electricity at the time of its construction. In addition, it was fitted with "all modern improvements, bath rooms, hot and cold water, lavatories, closets, and large halls on every floor."
Renovations changed the porch, but Lovelace was still used a women's dorm when Union moved to the current campus.
The music conservatory was built in 1905 to provide space for practice rooms. It was located next to Lovelace Hall. By 1925, the building had been remodeled for use as a cafeteria and was known as Dorcas Hall.
In 1947, Dorcas Hall was remodeled once again, including the addition of a basement, and it became the Emma Waters Summar Library. This was the first time in its 100+ years that the school had a free standing library.
Crook Hall was built in 1923 as a men's dorm. It was the first university building constructed on the south side of College Street.
Crook Hall continued to serve as a dormitory until Union moved. A mistaken diagnosis of scarlet fever briefly quarantined the occupants in 1929.
The SUB, or Student Union Building, was begun in 1947 but was not completed until 1951 due to budget problems. It eventually housed the cafeteria, music and home economics departments, book store and recreation rooms.
SUB AS SEEN FROM BARTON HALL
The Student Union Building stood across from Barton Hall.
SUB AT NIGHT
in 1951, Union purchased the College Street Elementary School from the city of Jackson. It became the Arts and Sciences building.
in 1955, Union partnered with the city of Jackson to build a new gymnasium that would serve both the university and the community, It was a model that had worked well in the 1930s with the construction of Rothrock Stadium.
The new gymnasium had a seating capacity of about 3000, provided space for physical education classes and community activities. It is still operated by the city of Jackson as the T. R. White Sportsplex.
Mid century campus improvement continued with the construction of Jones Hall. Named for university president Warren F. Jones, it opened in 1956 as a women's dorm.
The basement of Jones Hall had apartments for faculty and married students. It also had a "shampoo room" to prevent clogged drains in other parts of the building.
Ellis Hall followed in 1962 to provide equally modern facilities for men. It was the first dorm to include air conditioning, as Jones was not air conditioned until 1963.
Ellis was also the only dorm to have entrances off exterior walkways.
The last building erected on the old campus was Blythe Hall, a dormitory for women.
By the time Blythe was built, administrators and trustees were already discussing the possibility of relocating the campus. Although it would be several more years before the campus moved, a moratorium on building was enacted until the question was resolved.
In the fall of 1975, Union University began classes on its new campus.The old campus was sold, much of it to local government agencies.
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