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The Towers Dormitory Complex

Towers residence halls under construction
Special Collections & Archives, Southeast Missouri State University
Towers residence halls under construction, c. 1968

With Southeast enrollments expected to reach 5,000 by 1970, President Mark Scully and the Regents kept pace with mounting demand for student housing by constructing four high-rise dormitories down in a wooded ravine north of campus, known to generations of students as the "Home of the Birds."

In the summer of 1965, the college secured federal loans – supplementing state appropriations – to complete several necessary capital improvements to accommodate the growing student body, chief among these were renovations to Kent Library, a new student center, and modern, high-rise dormitories.    

Built between 1966 and 1968, this complex of four, twelve-story “towers” – prosaically named after the four cardinal directions – contained student rooms housing over 1,000 students, social areas, and resident dining hall.

Construction of such tall buildings threatened to upset the school’s long established architectural style, making the north side of campus appear “top-heavy,” towering above Academic Hall. So, as a compromise, the Towers were located in the so-called “Home of the Birds,” a bucolic, little forested valley tucked away below Magill Hall. By building at the bottom of this hillside, the Towers would end up being on the same level with the rest of campus.

And while the Towers – which were remodeled and updated in the mid-1990s – marked the end of one campus landmark - the “Home of the Birds” – the dorms introduced a new generation at Southeast to another landmark: Cardiac Hill.

Joel P. Rhodes is a Professor in the History Department of Southeast Missouri State University. Raised in Kansas, he earned a B.S. in Education from the University of Kansas before earning his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.