The Bone Student Center celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, but even after four decades there’s still a lot about this campus venue that you may not know.

And you can join the Bone birthday celebration this fall by coming out for some free cake on the second-floor concourse starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday, September 10, or by attending a special reception during Homecoming weekend for former and current employees, student workers, interns, and volunteers.

The 20 things you may not know about the Bone and Braden Auditorium:

1. Original plans for the new “Union and Auditorium” on campus called for a hotel.

2. The Bowling and Billiards Center opened in 1972 with 16 bowling lanes and 20 pool tables.

3. During the presidential primary campaign in 1979, Ronald Reagan spoke at the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Dinner in the ballroom. He used Director Bruce Kaiser’s office suite as his dressing room.

4. In 1982, the union’s name was changed to the Bone Student Center in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Bone. Dr. Bone was the ninth president of Illinois State. At the same time, the auditorium was named Braden after Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Braden. Dr. Braden was the tenth president of Illinois State.

5. Peter Gabriel recorded some of the music for his 1982 live album, Plays Live, inside Braden Auditorium.

Bone mosaic mural

The “All of Us Under a Rainbow” mural outside the Bone.

6. The mosaic mural on the west side of the building entitled, “All of Us Under a Rainbow” was unveiled at the close of A Very Special Arts Festival (1982-1985).

7. In January of 1985, 1,100 people turned out for the Cubs Caravan Lunch Program in the Brown Ballroom. The 1984 Cubs had made it to the postseason for the first time since 1945. The event led to subsequent Caravans and to the start of ISU Day at Wrigley Field, now an annual event.

8. The art installation outside the Prairie Room entitled “Wood Speaks” was completed in 1980 and designed by former Illinois State Professor Stephanie Amster. The piece measuring 20 feet long, 10 ½ feet in height, and 6 inches deep was created from man-made, machine-made, antique, and natural wood materials.

9. When Vice President George Bush made a campaign stop at the Bone Student Center in 1988, the staff spent nearly a week with the Secret Service preparing for the event.

10. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, and Prince are among the hundreds of Braden Auditorium performers who have signed the cinder block dressing room walls.

11. Other Braden performers have included Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, George Jones, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Barry Manilow, James Taylor, the Grateful Dead, Rush, Kiss, Pearl Jam, Cypress Hill with Rage Against the Machine, Beck, Brad Paisley, Harry Connick Jr., Rick Springfield, Matchbox Twenty, Robin Williams, and Bill Cosby.

12. Braden Auditorium has been the site of five ice shows in which the stage has been turned into an ice rink.

13. The International Flag Display in the first floor concourse represents the home countries of faculty, staff, and students at Illinois State University. Its purpose is to celebrate our diversity and help demonstrate that our institution extends beyond U.S. borders.

14. The Bird Shirt Program began in 2007 to promote school spirit and tradition and generate more traffic in the Bone Student Center. Today there are roughly 27,000 “Fear the Bird” shirts in circulation.

15. Michelle S. Paul became the first female director of the Bone Student Center in 2011.

16. The Bone Student Center hosted 4,306 events in 2012.

Garcia's at Bone

Students stop by Garcia’s inside the Bone in 1987.

17. Improvements in recent years have included installation of a new roof, Braden stage, interactive building signage, and water refill stations, along with renovations of the Lobby Shop, Braden Box Office, 2 East Computer Lounge, building elevator, Prairie Room, and Circus Room.

18. Some former restaurants have included Crock ‘n Roll Deli, Eligo’s Deli, Garcia’s Pizza, The Cage, 1857 Room, Ritazza Coffe, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Dairy Queen.

19. Beloved Bone Student Center employee Manuel Cordero worked at Illinois State University for 47 years and was once a member of the Flying Corderos Circus Troupe.

20. This spring, Illinois State’s Board of Trustees approved a $2 million project to hire architects and engineers to design the first phase of an even larger revitalization project at the Bone Student Center that will focus on the second floor.

Erin Watts can be reached at