Justin Hall is the research and teaching center of the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University. Located on the north side of Lovers Lane, the $2,125,000 structure was completed in 1960 during the presidency of Dr. James A. McCain. The building was dedicated to honor Margaret M. Justin, who served as dean of the School of Home Economics from 1923 to 1954. When completed, Justin Hall included more than 100,000 square feet of space dedicated to teaching, research, and outreach activities.
Dean Margaret M. Justin
Margaret M. Justin was the youngest home economics dean in the nation when she began her appointment in 1923. As a creative national leader, Dean Justin was responsible for the foundation of growth in Home Economics at Kansas State College from 1923 to 1954. Dean Justin was committed to ensuring there sufficient textbooks for home economics classes in colleges, universities, and high schools, which led her to author, co-author, or invite faculty to write textbooks in home economics specializations.
She received B.S. degrees from Kansas State University in 1909 and Columbia University in 1917 and a doctorate from Yale in 1923. Dean Justin was instrumental in the development of home economics research programs and graduate programs, including the Ph.D. degree in foods and nutrition. As an influential leader, she was known for her effective radio presentations, national speeches, classroom textbooks, and involvement in the American Home Economics Association, President Hoover's Committee on Child Welfare, and the White House Conference on Housing.
The Need for a New Building
Calvin Hall, the previous Home Economics building, had been erected in 1907 to handle an undergraduate enrollment of 260. By 1957, there were more than 500 undergraduates and 28 graduate students. The faculty had grown from 8 members to 73, and research was carried on by five of the six departments. Calvin Hall was inadequate to hold the growing numbers, and home economics work had to be housed in Anderson Hall, Thompson Hall, and a World War II barrack. Plans for Justin Hall emphasized the goal of bringing all home economics work under one roof for the first time in many years.
Design of the Justin Hall Facilities
Dean Doretta Hoffman took a leadership role working with department heads and faculty to plan the 102,000 square foot building. Justin Hall, also known as the Teaching and Research Center for Home Economics, was planned with half of its space designated for teaching and the other half solely for research purposes. The three-story limestone veneer structure had porcelain and metal paneling, allowing glimpses of aqua color to show on the outside surfaces. The building had smooth limestone in the north and south, while rough stone was added on the east and west ends of the structure to match the rest of the limestone on campus.
Justin Hall was made a beautiful building through the carefully planned details. Stairways had birch rails with a matching metal woven design. Bright colors were chosen to accentuate each story. Dean Hoffman convinced state architects of the importance of using a strong color selection, since the college taught interior design within the building. A unique feature Dean Hoffman insisted upon was having chimes in place of a bell to indicate class times. The musical sound brought criticism from the head of facilities, reporting it would never last. However, upon entering Justin Hall today, students, faculty, and guests still hear soft chimes announcing the beginning and ending of class periods. Justin Hall achieved another milestone in the building design: it was the first fully air-conditioned academic building on campus.
When opened in 1960, Justin Hall had 28 teaching laboratories, 23 research laboratories, and 8 classrooms. Other facilities included conference rooms, faculty and student workrooms, offices, and a large lecture-demonstration classroom to serve and audience of 229 people. The spacious lounge in the entrance of Justin Hall provided a place to gather, host events, and talk with friends. Modern tables and chairs were placed around the edge of the room for studying. Large exhibit cases contained colorful displays on all three floors.
"Justin Hall will be a milestone for the entire profession of home economics," Dean Doretta Hoffman said, as she broke the ground to officially start the construction of Justin Home Economics Hall on September 19, 1957. She continued by stating, "The new building will provide classroom, laboratory, and office space for superior training of students in the field of home economics at a time when the demand for well-trained home economists is at an all-time high." Sylvia Gaddie Bretthauer, Textile and Clothing senior and president of Justin Home Economics Club added, "The building will give students a more specific education through the added facilities and will also increase enrollment."
Home economics classes were dismissed so that faculty and students could attend the ground breaking. Dr. Arthur D. Weber, acting Kansas State College president, presided at the ceremony.
The Final Building
In 1960, each department in Justin Hall had special features to entice students. On the third floor, the Art Department had specialized laboratories for ceramics, silversmithing, jewelry making, and furniture refinishing. Family Economics had a housing laboratory with 12-inch square blocks on the floor and a green-blackboard with 12-inch squares so students could visualize floor space when designing rooms. A hydraulic lift helped determine ideal heights of counters for individuals in housing courses. There was also a household equipment laboratory for demonstration and research.
In Foods and Nutrition, the meal planning classroom had 10 kitchens of various sizes around the perimeter, presenting kitchens of different income levels. The ranges were split evenly between gas and electric, allowing students a feel for cooking with each. The center of the room had tables to let students serve meals they had prepared. The basal metabolism suite was a complete apartment used to house people undergoing metabolism tests in nutrition research. Food research facilities included an oven room with large revolving ovens, a sensory evaluation laboratory, and an experimental foods laboratory.
The clothing and art laboratories were specially located on the north side of the building to make use of natural light. Reductions and changes made in the original plan of the building included omitting a child development laboratory. If the nursery school had remained, all other departmental laboratories would have been cut, so the department decided it would be better served to construct a separate building for the nursery school laboratory at a later date.
Dedication of Justin Hall, 1960
The formal dedication of Justin Hall began with and open house for the community on Sunday, September 25, 1960. The dedication banquet program was held on September 28, and began with music and a skit on the History of Home Economics, written by Associate Dean Ruth Hoeflin. Actors pantomimed steps taken over the 87 years, beginning from the original class of 12 students in dressmaking to the present School of Home Economics, with a student body of 600, faculty of 80 members, and 117 different classes offered. Governor and Mrs. George Docking and Dean Emeritus Margaret Justin were honored guests.
On September 29, President James A. McCain presided at the morning dedication ceremony where David Henry, President of the University of Illinois, made the keynote address. Bessie B. West, former head of Institutional Management, presided at the noon luncheon, where there was a presentation of Distinguished Service Awards. Mrs. Katharine M. Alderman, former president of the American Home Economics Association, stressed the hundreds of jobs waiting for home economists. Patricia Beezley, manager-owner of Pennant Cafeteria, commented on how the inspiration she received through home economics education was an active ingredient in her success.
Bessie B. West paid tribute to the Home Economics faculty by explaining how preliminary planning done by Dean Justin and her staff laid a strong foundation for the building, and how the present dean had successfully directed the completion of the plans. Dorthy Lyle, President of the American Home Economics Association, gave the afternoon keynote speech, "The Future Challenges Home Economics." She acknowledged Dean Justin for her 31 years of leadership and service and to home economics at K-State.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony in front of Justin Hall, Russell Rust of the Kansas Board of Regents made the formal presentation of Justin Hall and President James A. McCain officially accepted the building. Mr. Rust commented, "The Board of Regents considers the KSU School of Home Economics the best in the entire nation. The Regents are proud and pleased to have the opportunity to provide this school with a fine new building, containing as it does 100,000 square feet and ultramodern equipment in all six departments of home economics." The 1955, 1958, and 1959 legislatures made appropriations totaling $2,125,000 for the home economics building. Mr. Rust was pleased with the progress of the building, continuing to say, "Almost seven years from the time the first official action was taken, the building was completed. The home economics faculty and student body have been waiting not 7 but 87 years for this building since the first classes in sewing, dressmaking and millinery were initiated in 1873."History information taken from the manuscript of The History of Human Ecology at Kansas State University: 1873-2009 by Carol E. Kellett and Alexandria Teagarden.
You can view featured photos taken throughout the building's history, as well as photos of the expansion construction.
Construction Photos (slideshow)
Justin Hall is located on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. We hope that you will make Justin Hall part of your next K-State visit.
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