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Student Union Building History

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HISTORICAL PHOTOS
BDSC
Barfield Drawing Room - 1950s
SUB Lounge
Snack Bar

[THE HEART OF BAYLOR'S CAMPUS]

In February 1936, Dr. Kenneth Hazen Aynesworth, a Waco physician and former Baylor student, saw the need and conceived the idea of building a center which would provide facilities for student social life on the university's campus. Dr. Aynesworth called a meeting of a few loyal Baylor supporters, pointed out the need for such a facility and, alluding to the forthcoming Baylor centennial celebration only nine years away, challenged the group so successfully that its members immediately agreed to create the Baylor Centennial Foundation as a fund-raising entity. This was the first time an attempt was made to create a network of alumni supporters and the funding of a student union building would be its first project. Dr. Aynesworth served as the first foundation president.

Construction of the union building began in the summer of 1940 after the Baylor Foundation leadership concluded it would be best to begin construction before building material shortages could occur because of the outbreak of war in Europe. And, although the foundation had been able to raise only a small portion of the estimated cost of construction, somehow money was found to allow the work to continue even after the United States entered World War II in December 1941-less than a week after the cornerstone had been set in place.

By the end of 1942 the construction of the union building's framework of girders was in place; however, at that point, the realities of the wartime economy overtook the building's progress. Construction ceased, and workmen painted the exposed steel to protect it against prolonged exposure to the weather as it stood silhouetted against the Baylor skyline throughout the duration of World War II.

Construction resumed in February 1946 and by the fall of 1947 the union cafeteria, soda fountain, bookstore and clubrooms were opened for student use. As the school year progressed, the barber and beauty shops, bowling alley, and recreation rooms were also opened for use and these were soon followed by the drawing room, student and faculty lounges, dining rooms, offices for the alumni associations, student government and other university organizations. The final price tag of $883,500 for the building proved to be much higher than originally anticipated.

For thirty-five years, the structure bore no specific name; it was known simply as the Union Building or the Student Union Building. In 1981 trustees voted to recognize the generosity of alumnus Gov. Bill Daniel to the university by associating his name with the building. Formally christened at Homecoming of that year, the campus "living room" which has retained and reinforced its pivotal role in Baylor life, has been known as the Bill Daniel Student Center (the SUB).

Synopsis from Looking Back at Baylor, The Baylor Line, Kent Keeth, Texas Collection

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