Home Economics (1924)
Home Economics, circa 1934. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Physical Plant.
The success of the “Women’s Course,” which became the Divison of Home Economics in 1909, led to its outgrowth of both the Women’s Building (Morrill Hall) and Abbot Hall. As a result, the state legislature granted funds for a new Home Economics building, one of few state-funded construction projects of the 1920s. Designed by Edwyn Bowd, the four-story building displays typical Collegiate Gothic style with its steeply pitched roof and decorative castellations, buttresses, and limestone quoins. Additions to the building were completed in 1937 (designed by Bowd–Munson) and 1980 (designed by the M.S.U. Physical Plant).
Along with offices and classrooms, the building contained laboratories that allowed the school to conduct scientific research and offer a graduate program in nutrition. These are but two examples of the broader scope of the Home Economics Division. As Dean Jean Krueger wrote in 1926, “We are not concerned now so much with the actual machinery of living, the perfection of the skills involved in the sewing of a ‘fine seam,’ or the making of a delicious pie, as we are in the psychological, sociological and economic adjustments of family groups to present day and future needs.”[Kuhn, p. 293. Widder, p. 162]
The expanded program offered a total of eight different majors that prepared women for “a score of vocations” beyond the home including teaching, institutional management, clothing design and textile chemistry. A graduate of a five-year cooperative course with the Edward W. Sparrow Hospital earned a BS degree and a general nursing certification. Next door, the home management practice house (formerly Faculty Row № 10 but known to the H.E. program as № 8)* provided a hands-on experience in all aspects of a functioning home as well as “the solution of family living problems.”[Widder, pp. 155–157. Kuhn, p. 293]
The Division of Home Economics later grew to become the College of Home Economics. As its mission continued to expand, the school evolved into the College of Human Ecology, and the Home Economics building was renamed as the Human Ecology building.
On a side note: About a year after its first broadcast in March 1923, WKAR Radio was installed in studios located in the fourth floor of the Home Economics building’s central tower section. The station was up and running before construction on the building had even been completed.[Kuhn, pp. 315–316; Widder, p. 228.]