Tour > Virtual Tour > McKenny Union
Name(s): Charles McKenny Union
constructed: Begun November 8, 1930
and dedicated October 24, 1931
Frank Eurich, Jr. of Burrough and Eurich,
of Architecture: A combination of
Collegiate Gothic with Art Deco.
Use: A social center
Dates of renovation: 1963:
eastern extension built and bookstore located
in basement. 1992: further renovation.
Use: Student Union: social and meeting
Register of Historic Places: 1984
Charles McKenny laying the cornerstone
for the Union
MSNC was the first teachers’ college
with a social center. In 1924 President
Charles McKenny proposed the idea
of a Union to student leaders. That year the
Alumni Association set out to raise $500,000.
For the first time the university funded a
building campaign by soliciting money from
alumni. Later money was pledged by the Student
Council and by the faculty. By 1928 the school
had pledges for $350,000 but the because of
the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Depression,
the school had only collected $130,000 in
cash by 1930. Construction was begun in 1931
with a reduced, and therefore less expensive,
plan. Difficulties in paying bonds on the
building lead the state to take control in
1937, drawing the cost of the debts from the
student programming fees.
Despite these funding difficulties the building
was a pleasant structure. Architects designed
McKenny in the Collegiate Gothic style that
was popular throughout the Unites States at
the time. This decorative style took its inspiration
from European universities founded during
the middle ages. Typically these buildings
were built of stone or brick with stone detailing
and arched windows. McKenny Union is special
because it combines this tradition with Art
Deco influences that were also popular in
the 1920s and 1930s. As a result the central
tower, a typical element of Collegiate Gothic
architecture, has the strong vertical lines
of Art Deco. Visually, therefore, McKenny
Union fit comfortably within the college tradition,
but expressed its modernity as well.
the medieval theme continued with vaulted
ceilings and small decorative plaster shields.
The rooms included lounges for men and women
as well as a ballroom with “deep red
drapes of Italian damask.” This beautiful
building was named for Charles M. McKenny,
president of EMU 1912-1933 and the man who
first proposed the idea of a student union.
housing crunch of the 1950s, the third floor
and basement of McKenny became student housing.
Dorm rooms were set up for those who worked
in the student union among others.
Union - Addition
In 1963 the
state allocated money for an expansion and
modernization of the building. The newly updated
building was opened in 1966. The renovations
included an expansion to the east containing
a bookstore in the basement, a grill and space
for bowling and billiards. McKenny was renovated
again in 1992, when the bookstore moved from
the basement. The university also added space
for a bank, mail center, and food venues.
barrier free facility contains 13 meeting
rooms ranging from a 4,300 square foot ballroom
to informal meeting rooms. 8,000 people visit
McKenny everyday during the academic year.
In 2001, feasibility plans were drawn up for
further expansion because of this phenomenal
of McKenny Union (Click on the image
for a bigger view)