By Beatriz Muñoz —
Tarleton State University, known for its rich traditions is set to tear down one of its oldest buildings on campus –Davis Hall, which was completed in 1936. Davis Hall was named after Dean J. Thomas Davis, who had the longest tenure as president at Tarleton from 1919-1945. He served as both the dean and president, according to the Tarleton website.
Davis Hall will be torn down during the summer of 2019 in accordance with Texas A&M University System guidelines said Perry Henderson, director of facilities and construction. The method of demolition is yet to be determined, he added.
“The method of demolitions will be determined once we talk to the engineers,” said Cecilia Jacobs, director of news & information, and assistant vice president of marketing & communications.
Gabe Lewis, former Tarleton employee, told The J-TAC in 1936: “Dean Davis is a great man and one that deserves all the honors which have been bestowed upon him.”
When Davis first came to Tarleton in 1919, there were only 300 students, five buildings, and 11 regular teachers. Today, almost a century later, there are 13,000+ students, 91 buildings, and 870 faculty members.
Throughout the years, Davis Hall has served various purposes for Tarleton students and staff. The building was used as a boy’s dormitory until the 1970s and often, but not always, a dorm for athletes.
Years ago, minimum wage was lower, and the economy was at a different stage than today. Dorm rooms could be reserved with a $5 deposit and the cost of rent was $28 per semester.
In the 1970s, Davis Hall became a general-purpose building. Since then, various departments have utilized the building: the campus police department , Tarleton’s radio station, departmental offices for Math & Physics, the Dean of Arts & Sciences, the Dean of Liberal & Fine Arts, Technology Services, the Department of Communication Studies, the Counseling Center and administration offices for TRIO/Upward Bound, Physical Facilities (prior to SSC) print shop for printing blue prints, Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER), College of Health Sciences & Human Services (CHSHS), and some Academic Affairs personnel.
“We were in Davis Hall for about 26 years. Our program moved in 1990 on the 3rd floor and was there for five years until 1995, when we finally moved down to the first floor. We were on the first floor for 21 years until May of 2016, when our office was changed to the second floor of the Grant building.
“It wasn’t uncommon in the early 2000’s for WWII area Tarleton alumni to walk in and look around because their dorm rooms used to be in the building.” Said Jenny Watts, the director of Upward Bound.
Upward Bound is one of several TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education, designed to provide a wide range of academic and cultural enrichment for its participants, and help high school students gain the necessary and fundamental skills and motivation to pursue a post-secondary education.
“Davis Hall was the building for misfits, and we were an eclectic group of people. I truly enjoyed the time our department was there because it was like Upward Bound had its own personal, private space,” Watts said.
Amongst Upward Bound, TIAER and several other departments, Davis Hall has served many purposes for Tarleton and has a rich history behind it.