One of the oldest buildings at Tarleton State will be demolished beginning this week.
Davis Hall, named for Tarleton’s 10th and longest serving president J. Thomas Davis (1914-1945), has heralded the front entrance to the Stephenville campus for more than 80 years.
Starting on Thursday, the red brick structure will increasingly fade away, accelerating activity that began May 20. Crews from Midwest Wrecking in Fort Worth will require up to four weeks to complete the job.
Caution was taken in disconnecting Davis Hall from the campus electrical and thermal grids to minimize impact to nearby IT network cables and the historic rock wall that stands a little more than 20 feet away. Several of the building’s decorative stone accents will be preserved from the four doorways and façade. The bronze “Davis Hall” plaque also will be saved and stored.
Access to campus parking from Lillian Street will not be impeded; however, large trucks will be out and about hauling off debris. Traffic entering or exiting campus may be directed around heavy equipment over the next few weeks.
The Davis Hall footprint will become additional greenspace adjacent to the recently dedicated Texan Trace pedestrian mall and soon-to-be-opened Engineering Building. Work on landscaping, new sidewalks and seating is expected to begin in August.
Built in 1936, Davis Hall served as a men’s dormitory until 1971, when renovations converted it to a multipurpose office building to house auxiliary staff. Most recently, the four-story structure served as home to several academic departments and administrative offices, including the dean of the College of Health Sciences & Human Services and the staff of the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research and Upward Bound.
J. Thomas Davis influenced Tarleton’s becoming a member of The Texas A&M University System and forged the way to creating the school’s culture of excellence. Rising enrollment necessitated constructing Davis Hall in 1936 to house male students; 64 rooms organized into four-room suites, each with a private bathroom and entry. A room cost $28 per semester in 1939.
At one time, when class gifts were popular undertakings, the Class of 1938 raised funds to erect a large neon sign, reading “Tarleton College, ’38,” on top of Davis Hall. The college removed the sign in the late 1950s.
Since the late 1970s, Davis Hall has housed Tarleton’s Police Department, the campus radio station’s broadcast studio, and departmental offices for Communication Studies, deans for the former College of Arts & Sciences and present-day College of Liberal & Fine Arts, technology services, mathematics and physics, and the counseling center.