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Crowder Hall, home of MU military programs, among campus buildings added to demolition list

The University of Missouri plans to demolish Crowder Hall, named after Enoch Crowder, former professor of military science at MU.
The University of Missouri plans to demolish Crowder Hall, named after Enoch Crowder, former professor of military science at MU.

The University of Missouri last year quietly added Crowder Hall to its list of historic campus buildings set to be demolished as part of the university's Space Reduction and Strategic Relocation Plan.

The building houses the university's Military Science Department and ROTC programs.

The building wasn't on the initial list of buildings in the plan, and there was no news release issued when it was added. A divestment of the building to MU Health Care was listed in a February 2021 plan update.

No date for the building's demolition has been set, says Uriah Orland, MU spokesman.

More: These University of Missouri buildings are set to be demolished

Other buildings added to the list that weren't on the initial list include Waters Hall, built in 1907, and McKee Gymnasium, built in 1922.

Planned demolition of Manor House student apartments now is scheduled for this fall or winter, based on the documents.

"It's a very fluid kind of plan," Orland said of the late addition. "We're always assessing."

Buildings on the list are included based on the cost of deferred maintenance and other factors, Orland said.

"We cannot continue to maintain buildings that do not meet today's standards," Orland said.

Built in 1938, Crowder Hall was dedicated on May 10, 1940, according to university archives on the website MU in Brick and Mortar. It is named for Lt. Enoch Crowder, who attended West Point and was appointed head of MU's military department in 1885, when the program had 200 students.

A report on the building dedication in the May 1940 Missouri Alumnus mentions that Major Gen. Robert M. Danford spoke at the ceremony about Crowder as "the Army's most brilliant military jurist."

Word of the planned demolition reached David O. Smith in Alexandria, Virginia, who wrote in a letter to the Tribune that the decision appears to have been made secretly.

"Crowder Hall is much more than an old university building requiring maintenance," Smith wrote. "It is a visible symbol of the university’s commitment to the military and ROTC, a tangible memorial to the tens of thousands of Mizzou Army veterans who received their initial military training in it building before going off to war in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

"Many did not return, but for those who did, Crowder Hall is every bit a symbol of the University of Missouri as Jesse Hall or the columns."

Smith is a 1969 graduate of MU and was active duty in the Army for 31 years. He's a member of the Army ROTC Alumni Board.

"I'm not trying to go to war with the university," Smith said by phone.

He said he knows the difficulty of managing resources, but hopes the university will look at intangibles and not just dollars and cents.

Smith recently was at an event on campus where UM System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi spoke about the university's relationship with the military. Smith talked with Choi about saving Crowder Hall, he said.

"I think he was sympathetic," Smith said of Choi's response. "This is an issue I hope he will get involved with. I think this is a decision that was made way down in the bowels of the bureaucracy."

He hopes the decision is reversed, Smith said.

"The prospect of demolishing it seems like a slap in the face to all military veterans who have been through Crowder Hall," Smith said.

One document lists the Hearnes Center and Naka Hall as spaces that can accommodate ROTC programs from Crowder Hall.

"The university is committed to working with all three ROTCs to find a new space for them," Orland said.

Some other buildings on the list are scheduled for demolition in August and October, according to a schedule released by the university. There also has been some opposition to plans for those buildings, with some saying important pieces of the university's history are being erased.

Roger McKinney is the education reporter for the Tribune. You can reach him at rmckinney@columbiatribune.com or 573-815-1719. He's on Twitter at @rmckinney9.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Crowder Hall added last year to campus buildings to be demolished