War Memorial Hall
War Memorial Hall (more commonly referred to as Memorial Hall) is a World War I memorial building located on the University of Georgia's main campus. Since its initial opening in 1925, Memorial Hall has served a variety of functions, including gymnasium, student recreation center, and student activities office. Memorial Hall now houses offices for the African American Cultural Center, Multicultural Services, International Student Life, Student Conduct, the LGBT Resource Center, and the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. It also offers two event spaces: the Memorial Hall Ballroom and Adinkra Hall.
Backstory and Context
Until 1920, the Alumni Society struggled to collect and effectively appropriate the money needed to construct the facility they had initially envisioned. An 1897 fundraising campaign had provided them with enough donations to construct the first floor of the building, but the group's poor record-keeping and lack of member coordination made subsequent attempts to raise money difficult. When the Alumni Society gained full control of the project in 1912, re-naming the unfinished building Alumni Hall, they had neither the funds nor the know-how to complete it. They continued to develop, however, and the following eight years saw the Alumni Society grow into a competent and cohesive organization. This structural improvement coincided with the end of World War I and an influx of new students to the university, which prompted Dr. Robert E. Park, chairman of the school's dormitory committee, to petition the Alumni Society for a large sum of money that could be used to construct additional dormitories and other student facilities. In response, the Society created the War Memorial Fund, a one million dollar donation initiative dedicated to the Georgians who had died in World War I. In spite of its lofty goal, the War Memorial Fund was a resounding success, drawing five and six-figure contributions from the General Education Board, Clarke County, the Athletic Association, and George Foster Peabody, who specifically earmarked his $60,000 donation for the future upkeep of Memorial Hall.3 Ultimately, $216,000 of the money collected was put toward Memorial Hall, which was completed by Birmingham's Small-Brice Construction Company in 1925 and dedicated to the University of Georgia alumni who had died in World War I.4 5
Initially, Memorial Hall was used as an athletic space; until World War II, the building housed a number of physical education classes, including dancing, swimming, and various sports theory courses.6 7 During World War II, the building became a training facility for the Navy Pre-Flight School, who added even more gymnasium space to the structure. Less than a decade later, Memorial was renovated again, this time to create offices for student activities staff. The 1960s and early 70s saw Memorial Hall become the university's de facto student center, though new students were beginning to sour on its limited space, lack of recreational resources, and handicap inaccessibility.8 The building also drew ire from students for political reasons: During the 1971-1972 school year, student activists staged two anti-war protests outside Memorial Hall, attracting significant media attention.9 10
When the Dean William Tate Student Center opened in 1983, Memorial Hall's uneasy tenure as the university's only student recreation center ended.11 Since then, it has served a variety of miscellaneous functions related to student affairs and university administration. It currently houses offices for the African American Cultural Center, Multicultural Services, International Student Life, Student Conduct, the LGBT Resource Center, and the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. It also offers two event spaces: the Memorial Hall Ballroom and Adinkra Hall.12
1 "UGA Gets a Student Center: Better Late Than Never." Georgia Student Quarterly, Fall 1979.
2 Jed May and Nathan Berg. "122-2: The Best Georgia Basketball Game, Player, and Court You've Never Heard Of." The Red and Black, March 31, 2017, n.p.
3 Thomas Walter Reed. "Chapter XIII: The Administration of David C. Barrow." In History of the University of Georgia, 2447-2459. Unpublished Typescript, ca. 1946, p. 2447.
4 Thomas Walter Reed. "Chapter XIII: The Administration of David C. Barrow," p. 2448-2457.
5 "UGA Gets a Student Center: Better Late Than Never," p. 16.
6 "Schedule of University Summer School 1928." Athens Banner-Herald, June 14, 1928, p. 3.
7 Athens Banner-Herald, June 5, 1924, p. 5.
8 "UGA Gets a Student Center: Better Late Than Never," p. 16-17.
9 wsbn64360, (No title), WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1772, 10:24/10:59, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga.
10 wsbn66331, (No title), WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1831, 54:49/55:18, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga.
11 "Dean William Tate Student Center: A Brief History," University of Georgia Student Affairs.
12 "University of Georgia Visitor's Center Campus Tour," p. 9.