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Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall
Special Collections & Archives, Southeast Missouri State University
Memorial Hall, c. 1969

In 1950 Southeast opened its first multiple-purpose student union, a student-centered recreation hall and lounge, dedicated to students who served in World War II, and all branches of the armed forces since the institution’s founding.

Begun in 1947, along with a men’s dormitory named for Dean Vest C. Myers, the construction of Memorial Hall and Myers Hall reflected the university’s need to accommodate World War II veterans attending college under the GI Bill. Constructed of locally quarried limestone in a prairie architectural style, it took nearly three years to complete Memorial and Myers because of construction delays and legal issues, the lengthiest building project in Southeast history at the time, longer even than Academic Hall.

Memorial Hall originally contained a 160-person cafeteria, spacious lounge area that doubled as a dance floor for balls and formals, recreation room, a formal dining room seating up to 400, and second floor meeting rooms for various student organizations. When Memorial finally opened in July 1950, the Cape Symphony provided music for the reception and the Social Life Committee conducted public tours.

After the University Center replaced it as the designated student union in 1975, Memorial housed the regional museum, now the Crisp Museum at the River Campus, and today serves students and faculty with the Center for Teaching and Learning, IT department, and Math Lab.

The adjacent Veterans Plaza carries on Memorial Hall’s commitment to honoring the university community who served.   

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.