The Dunn-Barton and Walker residence halls on the Illinois State University campus were demolished during the fall of 2008, but two half-century old copper boxes from the buildings’ cornerstones still contain some history. The boxes were opened by University President Al Bowman during an event in Hovey Hall.
The boxes were recovered during the demolition of the buildings and contain documents, newspapers and photographs that provide a glimpse into 1950’s campus life at what was then Illinois State Normal University (ISNU). Those items, along with the boxes themselves, will be kept in the University Archives as part of Illinois State’s permanent history collection.
The red brick Dunn-Barton residence halls opened to students in 1951. The box from those buildings contains copies of documents relating to the construction and financing of the residence halls. Construction of the halls was part of a new state program allowing teachers colleges to finance building projects with self-liquidating bonds, which were paid off using the revenue generated from the buildings. Other items included in the Dunn-Barton box are a program from the Oct. 22, 1950, cornerstone laying ceremony and copies of the The Daily Pantagraph and The Vidette with news articles about the construction project. The halls were named for Richard Dunn, a long-time legal counsel for the State Teachers College Board and Olive Lillian Barton, dean of women from 1911 to 1940.
Students moved into Walker Hall in the fall of 1955. Items from that building’s box include admissions brochures, an annual business manager’s report from 1953, a copy of the University’s student directory, a faculty and staff directory, a copy of the Alumni Quarterly from May 1954, literature on the University’s teacher education programs, aerial photos of the campus in the early 1950s showing the completed Dunn-Barton residence halls and the future site of Walker Hall, and Aug. 27 and Sept. 15, 1954, issues of The Daily Pantagraph. Walker Hall was named for Lewis Walker, a 1913 ISNU alumnus and president of the Teachers College Board from 1946 to 1960.
The Dunn-Barton and Walker residence halls were decommissioned and demolished to make way for construction of the Student Fitness and Kinesiology/ Recreation Building. The 170,000 square-foot facility will open in 2010.