Rogers State University will begin demolition of its aging and obsolete Post and Thunderbird Halls on Tuesday, Oct. 31, to enable the construction of the new Student Services Center, a 55,000-square-foot facility that will serve as a central location for students to study and socialize and provide a focal point for the Claremore campus.
The new student center will feature a central rotunda, indoor promenade, food court, expansive student meeting and study areas, bookstore, conference rooms, an executive board room and a 7,000-square-foot public ballroom overlooking the lake. The anticipated opening of the new faculty is spring 2008.
Post and Thunderbird Halls were determined to be structurally unsuitable and financially infeasible for renovation or expansion, according to architects and engineers working on the project.
Commemorative plaques from Post and Thunderbird Halls will be salvaged and displayed in the new student center, in addition to photographs of the old facilities.
Post Hall was constructed in 1926-27 and originally served as the mess hall for the Oklahoma Military Academy, a predecessor institution of RSU. It was the fourth building constructed on campus after Preparatory Hall, Meyer Hall (the former Maurice Meyer Barracks) and the colonel’s home, which is now the site of the RSU Foundation and Alumni Center.
The facility has also been called the Porter Officer Hall in honor of the longtime head of mess hall operations, Mr. Porter Officer.
During the years, the building has served many purposes in addition to its food service, including student union, bookstore, campus restaurant and general university offices.
At the time of its closure in the summer of 2006, the building housed the university’s food service operations, RSU Police Department, mailroom operations, print shop and several meeting rooms.
The Post Hall dining room’s sweeping, east-facing view overlooking Claremore has been one of the facility’s most defining elements. The facility has been a popular choice for community and campus events, including countless weddings and wedding receptions held at the facility in recent years.
The facility has undergone extensive renovations and additions during the years, including an addition during early 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration and a 1991 renovation that added its distinguishing colonnade across the east side of the building. The facility was remodeled in 1957 to serve as a student union when OMA began offering evening college classes to the community.
Thunderbird Hall was dedicated on Oct. 6, 1962, as a student lounge and center for the Corps of Oklahoma Military Academy Cadets. The building was named in honor of Oklahoma’s famed 45th Thunderbird Division, which saw extensive action during World War II and the Korean War. When viewed from the air, the building’s shape is reminiscent of its namesake Thunderbird.
The building was dedicated by Major General Frederick A. Daughtery, commanding officer of the 45th Division. Daughtery became a U.S. District Court Judge and received RSU’s Constitution Day Award in 1988 in recognition of his lifelong efforts to honor and perpetuate the values of the U.S. Constitution.
In 1974, the 14,000-square-foot building was renovated to house the institution’s library and was renamed Thunderbird Library. The building served as the library building until March 2004, when the library facility moved into the new, three-story Stratton Taylor Library building. The Stratton Taylor Library provides about 30,000 square feet of library space, more than double the facility’s former size.
The building was renamed Thunderbird Hall after the library vacated the facility, providing meeting and event space for campus and community activities until its closure in the summer of 2006.