The Peter A. Brooks Memorial Union stood from 1953 until 2001. The building served as the second student union for Marquette University and was named after former University President The Very Reverend Peter A. Brooks. While the building ceased all operations in 1990, it continued to stand until it was demolished in 2001. Today the former location of the union is home to Marquette's Raynor Library.
Memorial Union was named after The Very Reverend Peter A. Brooks a native of Watertown,
Wisconsin, and an alumnus of the university. He was a veteran of the First
World War who entered the Society of Jesus in 1921. After serving as Provincial
for the Missouri Province (which included Wisconsin), he became Rector and President
of Marquette University in 1944.
By the 1940s the original
Marquette student union had stood for over three decades, and many began to see
it as an outdated building. Following a 1945 trip to the dedication of a new
student union at the University of Wisconsin, a delegation of Marquette
University administrators began to push for the construction of a new student
union. By 1948 an official campaign was launched to raise funding for the new
union. Despite the enthusiasm for the campaign, it faced two complications
almost immediately after it began. First on May 16, 1948, University President Rev.
Peter Brooks, SJ, died suddenly of a heart attack. Brooks himself had
spearheaded a campaign to construct the university’s first student union as a
student in 1920, and was a firm supporter of the campaign from the start.
Second, by the start of 1951 the campaign had only raised $106,000 of the
nearly $800,000 needed. Finances were further hampered by a nationwide steel
shortage that hiked the cost of the project up to nearly $1.5 million. This
problems resulted in the Marquette Union organization dissolving and its assets
being absorbed by the university. Nevertheless, construction continued. The new
union was designated the Father Peter A. Brooks Memorial Union and officially
opened on April 7, 1953.
thirty-seven years of existence the Brooks Memorial Union served as a focal
point of student activity and the site of a number of non-university events.
Among the more notable occurrences was the visit of Governor Nelson Rockefeller
in December, 1959, during the Republican Presidential Primaries. After he
finished speaking, Rockefeller came under intense questioning over the issue of
his support for the dissemination of information regarding birth control abroad.
The early 1960s saw a large amount of activity from members of the newly formed
Peace Corps centered at the union. One specific instance came in 1963, when the
Deputy Director Bill D. Moyers of the Peace Corp visited Marquette and heralded
the university as the leading university for student involvement in the Peace
Corps. By the mid to late-1960s student activity at the union began to turn
very political as it, along with O’Hara Hall, became the two centers for
demonstrations. By far the most notable instance occurred in the wake of the
assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. On May 8, nearly 200
Marquette students barricaded the doors of the union from the outside, trapping
over 400 members of the university faculty and staff inside as they gathered
for the annual Pere Marquette Dinner. Ultimately the Milwaukee Police were
called in and they arrested two students for their part in the incident. This
in turn sparked another demonstration that night as over 100 student protestors
gathered in the union’s grill threatening to stay until the police released the
two students, which they did not.
the Brooks Memorial Union continued to serve the university in multiple capacities
throughout the 1960s and 1970s, by the late-1980s many begun to believe that
the building itself had outlived its usefulness. Thus many pushed for the
construction of a new student union at the former location of the Plankinton
Mansion. The campaign’s efforts were aided greatly by an anonymous donation of
nearly half the necessary funds for the construction of the new union.
Construction began on April 7, 1989, exactly thirty-six years after the Brooks
Memorial Union opened its doors. The new Alumni Memorial Union was completed in
mid-1990, and the building was officially dedicated on October 6. The Brooks
Memorial Union continued to stand until 2001, when it was razed as part of the
construction of the new Raynor Library.