By Laura Fenton
Patsy Krech's office used to be a men’s dorm room — she’s heard stories about what
life was like living there. These anecdotes she has been told about Scates Hall come
from credible sources: former residents.
“I’ve had a couple people stop by and say they lived on this floor," said Krech (BA
'73), director of advising for the University of Memphis’ College of Arts and Sciences.
“This one [man] came in and said, ‘This was my dorm room.’”
As she listens to former students reminisce about life in Scates, she imagines her
office, Room 113, as a dorm room. It must have been tightly packed because Krech can
only fit a desk, small tables and several bookshelves in there now.
“I’ve got it pretty crowded in here by myself, so they had it pretty crowded with
two beds and maybe a desk,” Krech said.
The building has had dozens of updates since it first opened as a men’s dorm in 1923.
The first large renovation was in 1965, when the University invested $240,869 to remodel
The dorm’s showers were converted to closets, an elevator in the north end of the
building was added and all rooms have been renovated into offices.
In Room 113, Dr. Rosie Phillips Bingham added doors to the bookshelves during her
time in the office from 1985-93.
“I had the doors put on because I tend to be junky and I needed storage space,” said
Bingham, U of M vice president of Student Affairs.
She remembers that the carpet was so old “it practically fell apart when they pulled
The repurposed building was used for departments like the Vice President of Student
Affairs, Dean of Student Activities, Counseling and Student Aid in the late 1960s.
It now is home to the administrative offices of the College of Arts and Sciences,
the Loans and Grants department, Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities, International
Studies, pre-law advisers and other offices.
The building had 136 male students when it first opened. Before then, men lived off
Douglas Mayo (BS ’39) lived in the dormitory for two years, one year on the second
floor and the other on the third floor.
Back then, “It was just [called] the men’s dormitory,” not Scates Hall as we know
it now, Mayo said.
He didn’t realize that more than a decade later his dorm would be renamed for his
“interesting and talented” Continental Congress professor Silas E. Scates.
Renamed for Scates in October 1952, the building served as a memorial for the contributions
Scates made to the University as chair of the Department of History from 1918-38.
Though the building’s purpose is now for administrative purposes, signs of coed life
remain, like the shower drains in the bathrooms and closets in most rooms.
Krech visited the building for advising when she was a student at the U of M. The
space where she met with her adviser was an office room with partitions.
“Their walls didn’t even meet the ceiling, so we heard the talking in each of the
offices,” she said.
And if Krech ever ponders what it was like for students to live in the building that
now hold’s her office, she can jot that question down. That way, when a former resident
pops by for a tour, she’ll be ready.