Nelda C. Stark Hall
Stark Hall under construction (exact date unknown). Courtesy of University of North Texas Libraries and Denton Public Library.
TWU President Dr. John Guinn and Texas House Speaker, Ben Barnes in front of Stark Hall (1967). Courtesy of University of Texas Arlington Libraries
Stark Hall in 1967. Courtesy of University of North Texas Libraries and Denton Public Library.
Dr. John A. Guinn and Denton mayor, Warren Whitson on top of Stark Hall during construction, Spring 1967. Courtesy of TWU Libraries.
View of Stark Hall from Frame Street, 1967. Courtesy of University of North Texas Libraries and Denton Public Library.
Stark Hall ground breaking ceremony (Jan. 4, 1966). Pictured: Dr. John Guinn, Dr. L.L. Armstrong of Denton First Baptist Church, Bill Drenner of Denton Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Warren Whitson, and TWU student, Paula Rich. Courtesy of TWU Libraries.
Nelda C. Stark and her husband, H.J. Lutcher Stark. Courtesy of the Stark Foundation website.
Backstory and Context
On May 30, 1965, Dr. John Guinn, president of Texas Woman’s University, addressed a crowd of students, parents, and faculty at the University’s commencement ceremony. He announced that the construction of a new dormitory would be in TWU’s near future. This building would later be known as Nelda C. Stark Hall. Standing at 226 feet with 21 stories, it is Denton’s first high rise building. The hall’s modern design was provided by the Austin-based architectural firm, Page Southerland Page. Louis F. Southerland drew inspiration for the design from the high rise facilities at the University of Pittsburgh. Stark Hall was the first dormitory on campus to provide private bathrooms in each dorm. The dormitory is named after alumna, philanthropist, and TWU Board of Regents member, Nelda Childers Stark.
Nelda C. Stark graduated from the College of Industrial Arts (now TWU) in 1930 with a degree in biology. She continued her involvement with the University when she was named to the Board of Regents in 1955. She was active on the board for twenty years and also served as the board's Vice President for six years. Recognized for her high civic and humanitarian achievements, Stark became the first individual to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from TWU on June 3, 1957. Some of her contributions to the University included funding for air conditioning in the Margo Jones Performance Hall and donations to the TWU Laboratories for Human Nutrition Research. The Board of Regents continued to honor Stark by naming the campus’s first high rise dormitory after her in 1966.
Stark Hall was built in order to accommodate the influx of students during the 1960s. Leading up to the tower’s construction, the Texas Commission on Higher Education had projected an increase in TWU’s student population from 3,380 students to 4,937 students by 1968. The University’s administration was faced with the decision to either build another dormitory or stop taking students. Dr. Guinn believed that high rise construction would help reserve acreage for parking spaces, recreational facilities, and future projects. The residence hall’s original capacity housed 640 undergraduate residents.
Construction activities began on December 27, 1965 and continued throughout 1966. The $3.2 million residence hall officially opened for use in 1967 and was dedicated by Texas House Speaker, Ben Barnes. Following its completion, Stark Hall was considered to be more luxurious than some hotels in the area due to its private bathrooms, air conditioning, and remarkable view of the city. It also included a cafeteria with an underground kitchen facility that would later be shared with John A. Guinn Hall.Today, Stark Hall and its sister tower serve as two of the most recognizable markers of TWU and the city of Denton.
"Les Girls, 21 Stories." Dallas Times Herald (Dallas,TX), October 1967.
Rives, Bill. "Build or Stop." Denton Record Chronicle (Denton, TX), June 03, 1965.
Thompson, Joyce. Marking a Trail: A History of the Texas Woman's University. Denton, TX. Texas Woman's University Press, 1982.
Darby, Orman. "21-Story Christmas Gift Planned For TWU Students." Denton Record Chronicle (Denton, TX), January 04, 1966.
"Stark Hall", photograph, 1969; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth14758/: accessed April 10, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. "Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes with Texas Woman's University (T. W. U.) President Dr. John A. Guinn." UTA Libraries Digital Gallery. 1967. Accessed April 10, 2019. https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/img/10005462
"Stark Hall Dorm", photograph, 1967;(https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth12428/: accessed May 1, 2019),University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.
"Major Warren Whitson and Dr. John A. Guinn on top of Stark Hall", photograph, 1967. Texas Woman's University Libraries, Digital Archives: Woman's Collection.
"Stark Hall at Texas Woman's University", photograph, 1967;(https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth25390/: accessed May 1, 2019),University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.
"Breaking ground for Stark Hall", photograph, 1966. Texas Woman's University Libraries, Digital Archives: Woman's Collection.
"Our Founders", photograph. Stark Foundation, http://starkfoundation.org/founders/.