Wilson Hall (Arkansas Tech University)

Wilson Hall, located 502 West M Street on the Arkansas Tech University campus in Russellville (Pope County), is an elaborate two-story building designed in the Colonial Revival style of architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 18, 1992.

The campus of Arkansas Polytechnic College (which later became Arkansas Tech University) comprised seventeen major buildings, including several dormitories that the U.S. Office of Education deemed “unfit for human habitation,” when Joseph W. Hull became the college’s eighth president in January 1932 and embarked on a major building campaign. Hull and the board of trustees applied for and received an $82,000 loan from the federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation in 1933 to build a new men’s dormitory.

Little Rock (Pulaski County) architect A. N. McAninch led the project, which would combine two 1910 dormitories and one built in 1913 by constructing wings from the central structure to connect it with the other two, which flanked it to the north and south. Construction began in June 1933, cutting short the summer term and eliminating most other campus activities.

By the end of July, construction crews were working extended hours to ensure the building’s completion in time for the fall semester. The Arkansas Gazette reported that three crews were on the job, writing, “Gomer Krause of Clarksville, general contractor, starts his first crew at 5 a.m. and the work continues without interruption until 8 p.m. with new crews going on at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.”

The resulting building was a massive two-story structure with an E-shaped plan. McAninch designed the structure in the Colonial Revival style, featuring a prominent cupola and an entrance portico with four Doric arches. The building held 105 rooms that could house 210 students, as well as two rooms for faculty members. There were two bathrooms on each floor, as well as dressing rooms and locker rooms for athletes.

The board of trustees voted in September 1952 to name the expanded dormitory Wilson Hall in honor of Judge R. B. Wilson, who had made a large contribution that helped locate the college in Russellville and who later served on the board from 1913 to 1927. Wilson Hall still serves Arkansas Tech as a coeducational dormitory in the twenty-first century and was fully renovated during the 2015–16 academic year.

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 July 17, 2020).

“Construction of Dormitories at Tech Rushed.” Arkansas Gazette, July 30, 1933, p. 2.

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 July  17, 2020).

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. “Wilson 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/PP0048.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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