Whitewater… Then and now: UW-Whitewater campus in the 1960s


An old photo of the East Wing entrance of Old Main, now known as Hyer Hall, held up to the current building entrance.

Oct. 1, 2014

By Vesna Brajkovic

UW-Whitewater is ever-expanding with new construction plans popping up at every reach of campus. Each year, students encounter gradual changes as the student body expands and buildings, facilities and grounds become outdated. This historical campus, founded in 1868, has changed drastically over the years.

Fire at Old Main changes campus dynamic 

An iconic part of the UW-W campus was the 102-year-old Old Main building that burned down 44 years ago on Feb. 7, 1970.

The only surviving wing of the building is now known as Hyer Hall, which was reopened in 1999 after major renovations.

Old Main was the heart of the campus at the time. It housed library materials, most of the classrooms, an auditorium and faculty offices.

The Old Main building is also one of the campus logos.

Losing Old Main had a big impact on campus, according to Andersen Library Service Assistant Charlene Klemp who has been on campus for 47 years.

“It was such a beautiful, beautiful entryway onto the campus,” Klemp said. “It was gorgeous, especially in the fall when the colors were out. [Losing the building] was hard.”

Changing geography of campus

It takes around 15 minutes to get from point A to point B anywhere on campus. But in the past, the campus was much more condensed. The Starin Road to Main Street quadrant held the majority of the campus.

The now green space in between Heide Hall, McGraw Hall and Andersen Library was once a football field and Hamilton Gymnasium.

The marching band would practice in the middle of campus and football spectators would huddle into the few seats available. It was minuscule compared to the current stadium, which can hold up to 11,000 people. Perkins Stadium opened in 1970, and was originally named Warhawk Stadium before being re-dedicated in 1996.

The Hamilton Gymnasium held the majority of physical education classes and had a swimming pool in the basement.

The only dining hall was centered in the University Center, known as the Student Union in the 1960s. The Esker and Drumlin Dining halls didn’t appear until later on.

Student life on campus in the 1960s

Klemp, a former student at Whitewater who used to live in McCutchan Hall, which is now a tutoring center, said the campus rules have changed a lot since she walked these sidewalks.

The original dorms, McCutchan, Baker and Salisbury halls, (and later Sayles Hall and White Hall) were strictly same-sex.

“Men were not allowed past a certain point – except for moving in and moving out,” Klemp said. “You had to sign in and out every time you left the dorm after a certain time. We had hours where you had to be in by 10:30 at night and you got two overnights allowed a semester.”

Later on, the six-pack, including Arey, Clem, Fricker, Lee, Bigelow and Benson Hall, and Wells Towers were also same-sex residence halls. The only co-ed dorm, according to a 1973-1974 campus map, was Fischer Hall.

The dress code was very strict for the residents in the ’60s.

Women were not allowed to wear pants or slacks to class. According to Klemp, unless the temperature was zero or below women had to wear dresses.

“The answer to the clothes questions is ‘Common Sense,’” read the 1962-66 University bulletin. “Pincurls and scarves are never allowed in the classrooms. Shorts and blue jeans are excluded from campus buildings at all times except for physical education purposes.”

Signing up for classes may seem daunting now, but in the 1960s it wasn’t just the click of a mouse; it was a two-day process. Students had to physically go to each department and take out a card. If something didn’t work out, you had to back track and exchange classes one-by-one.

Changes are more than just physical

Although the UW-W campus is full of history, there has been a lot of new expansion.

Klemp welcomed the change and said that the space is needed.

“Each campus needs to have its faculty together, you can’t have them spread out over campus the way it’s been previously,” Klemp said on the new office building, Laurentide.

Klemp said that one of the biggest positive impacts on campus has been the leadership.

“I think right now, in all the years that I’ve been here, it has been good that Chancellor Telfer and the provost’s office do not just sit behind their desks,” Klemp said. “They really mingle and really seem to care what [others] think, and how they think, and are willing to put themselves out there. I didn’t see that with some of the other chancellors. I think that’s gone a long way to helping improve the over all feel of the campus. That we are a family.”

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