Special Report Our Place
Alumni reflect on examples of our evolving campus
There was a time when you could circle the Oval in your Buick Roadster to get to music class in Page Hall. These days, Dan Redmond finds a spot in a nearby parking garage and walks to Page for his public administration classes.
In its 114-year history, Page has served as home to the College of Commerce and Journalism, the Ohio Department of Health, the School of Music, the Moritz College of Law, Fisher College of Business and, since 2004, the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Such is the case for many buildings on Ohio State’s Columbus campus, which has evolved through the years to reflect students’ academic needs, university priorities and society’s changing demands for higher education.
The design of Page Hall’s interior — a three-story glass box, reminiscent of a space capsule — as well as a first-floor timeline and collection of memorabilia recognize John Glenn’s monumental contributions to space exploration and government.
“Inside it looks brand new,” says Redmond ’12, who is pursuing his master’s in public administration. “All of the touches are new.”
Stan Laughlin ’60 JD, a professor emeritus in the Moritz College of Law, was a first-year law student in 1957 when he wrote his first law journal article in Page’s basement. That year, law school classes moved to what was then the new law school building at 12th Avenue and High Street, but the law library and administrative offices were still in Page.
“I remember working on a law journal article there in the library,” Laughlin said. “I recall Professor Latin, Norm Latin, the oldest person on the faculty, who taught me corporations, and torts to the first-year students. [He was a] veteran of World War I, a very nice gentleman. I remember nice conversations with him.”
Repurposing hasn’t always required the “hollowing out” that Page required, but it almost always involves renovations.
Pomerene Hall opened its doors in 1923 as the “Women’s Building,” a union exclusively for female students. It housed the dean of women’s offices, women’s physical education, and lounges and meeting rooms. (Women could use the Ohio Union once a week, on “Ladies Day.”)
In the late 1940s, Betty Hoopes Huffman ’51, ’81 MA, and Randy Huffman ’51, ’61, ’81 MA, walked past Pomerene all the time. It stood between her dorm, Mack Hall, and Thompson Library. It even was the site of their first date, the Gold Diggers’ Prom, for which women did the inviting.
While Betty Huffman was “born dancing,” it was Pomerene’s gym she prized most.
“This was my place, what I related to,” says Huffman, who led Mack Hall’s intramural basketball team and practiced there. The Pomerene pool, on the other hand, “played a rather unhappy role for me.” Faced with a multi-quarter physical education requirement, she figured, “This is my chance to learn to swim.” She tried three swimming courses, then resorted to land-based alternatives.
Over the years, Pomerene has seen several additions and significant repairs, including after a fire in 1971 and a flood in 1992. The Department of Dance has used the building, as have some tennis and golf classes, and more recently the Department of History of Art. The building is now undergoing renovations to house the university’s data analytics programs.
That building once housing “Ladies Day” — the first student union on a public university campus — is an example of an Ohio State structure that has not only experienced new purposes, but new names since it opened in 1911.
During World War I, the Ohio Union served as a mess hall for soldiers billeted on campus. In 1921, the stadium building committee set up shop on the second floor.
And after what many people mistakenly call the “original Ohio Union” opened along High Street in 1951, the actual original was renamed the Student Services Building. More than a quarter century later, it was renamed Enarson Hall, and underwent renovations to offer student advising, orientation, academic support, admissions and financial aid services. For a time, it was even the place to find a portion of the university’s rock collection.
Today, it is Hale Hall, home to the Hale Black Cultural Center and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The center includes classrooms used by departments as diverse as history and dance, an art collection totaling more than 500 pieces and the MLK Lounge, which hosts banquets, speakers and performances.
Moving to Hale in 2000 from Bradford Commons “gave us the opportunity to grow, to expand and to make this the best black cultural center in the country,” says Larry Williamson Jr., the center’s director. Without such evolutions, he adds, “the campus would have been growing, and we would have been staying the same.”