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More December Features:

Graesser receives Award
Profile: Dr. Lin Zhan
Entrepreneurs take note
Phantom production
Scates Hall’s history revisited
UMAR silent auction Dec. 13
TIGUrS garden initiative projects
Names in the news


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A centennial reflection: Scates Hall’s history revisited

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 it.

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 it up.”

Scates Hall

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 campus.

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.

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Last Updated: 1/23/12