Williamson Hall (Arkansas Tech University)
Williamson Hall, located at 1205 North El Paso Avenue on the Arkansas Tech University campus in Russellville (Pope County), is a two-story, E-shaped brick building designed in the Classical Revival style of architecture and built by the National Youth Administration (NYA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 18, 1992.
Arkansas Polytechnic College (which later became Arkansas Tech University) had seventeen major buildings when Joseph W. Hull became the college’s eighth president in January 1932 and embarked on a major building campaign, much of it financed by federal programs like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Public Works Administration (PWA), and Works Progress Administration (WPA).
In July 1935, Hull was appointed as Arkansas’s state director of the NYA, which was created to provide work for young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five and for students who needed money for school. Though the board of trustees granted Hull an indefinite leave of absence, he remained based at the college.
The NYA built a state headquarters building on the campus, to which Tech supplied water connections and water as its contribution. The college also received a guarantee that if the building was no longer needed by the NYA or its successors, ownership would pass to the school. Completed in March 1940, the headquarters building reflected the Classical Revival style, which the National Register nomination said was evidenced by “the absolutely symmetrical composition of the front façade and the pedimented Classical central portico with its four Doric columns that dominate the composition.”
The NYA ceased operations in 1943, and by 1945 the building was home to the college’s speech, music, and drama departments. In October 1954, it was named Williamson Hall in recognition of Marvin Williamson, who was the college’s band and orchestra director for forty-three years. It was later refitted with a test kitchen and began housing Arkansas Tech University’s Parks, Recreation and Hospitality Administration.
For additional information:
Baker, William D. Public Schools in the Ozarks, 1920–1940. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1990. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed October 21, 2021).
DeBlack, Thomas A. A Century Forward: The Centennial History of Arkansas Tech University. Madeline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Co., 2016.
Hope, Holly. An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed October 21, 2021).
Silva, Rachel. “Arkansas Listings in the National Register of Historic Places: One Hundred Years of Arkansas Tech University.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 68 (Winter 2009): 442–450.
Story, Kenneth. “Williamson Hall – Arkansas Tech University.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/PP0046.nr.pdf (accessed July 17, 2020).
Walker, Kenneth R. History of Arkansas Tech University 1909–1990. Russellville: Arkansas Tech University, 1992.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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