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Main Hall

When Alabama Girls Industrial School opened in 1896, it had a classroom building, which for many years was called merely the Chapel, and a few temporary “out buildings.”  There were no living quarters; however, the president found several good families who agreed to board girls that first year of operation, and shortly after began planning the construction of a dormitory.  The Southern Railroad hauled the building materials free of charge.  The work went so well that West Wing, with a capacity of about 100 girls, was ready by the fall term of 1897.  It was the first of the three wings constituting Main Hall.

Before 1907, during the presidency of Dr. Peterson, what is now Central Main, containing the basement dining room, was added.

When Dr. Palmer became president in 1907, he made the completion of the dormitory top priority.  The job was finished late in the summer of 1908.  Following the plans of the architect William Earnest Spink of Birmingham, the East Wing was built, the West Wing enlarged and the front finished.  The complete building housed more than 400 young women and, at one time, was thought to be the largest female residence hall in the Deep South.

Special features of Main are the two tubular Kirker-Bender fire escapes, which have been the terror and delight of generations of students, and the balky elevator affectionately called “Mr. Otis.” It is very noticeable that the arcade on either side of the front entrance differs in style of architecture.  The west side has arches and the east side has straight lines with modified doric columns.  No one seems to know why.  The exterior has remained essentially unchanged but the interior has undergone a number of renovations and alterations.  In the early days, there had been a wide staircase leading from the second floor into the lobby.  In 1946, it was replaced and in 1986 restored.

(This is an excerpt from White Columns & Red Bricks by Lucille Griffith, Ph. D.)


The School of  Education unveilled some cool new resources and facilities to all UM students this morning.  The Cyber Cafe will be a great spot for UM students to stop by and enjoy a cup of coffee while surfing online at the LabTop Bar, or take advantage of the ability to PodCast lectures and demonstrations from UM faculty or even students!  But that’s not all.  Throughout the building there are technology enhanced learning spaces the most impressive of which is the videoconferencing room.  This room will allow UM students and faculty to communicate with students in classrooms across campus, throughout the state of Alabama, but  also the world!  In a demonstration held this morning Dr. Joe Walsh was videoconferencing  in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong!  UM School of Education faculty will also be able to use the technology enhanced spaces to teach classes to students throughout our state!  Dean Anna McEwan, Dr. Joe Walsh and the entire School of Education faculty and staff was extremely proud and excited; and they have every reason to be proud because you will not see this type or degree of technology in many programs!dsc_0156dsc_0159


May 2009
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