University Union Collection, 1947 - PresentAdd to your cart.

By Perri Hamilton

Collection Overview

Title: University Union Collection, 1947 - PresentAdd to your cart.
Predominant Dates: 1965 - Present
ID: 02/20/ U0475
Extent: 34.0 Boxes
Arrangement: The papers are arranged alphabetical and by organization for the documents that came in with no established order.  The photographs and media are in their own series. Artifacts are also grouped in a series.
Date Acquired: 00/00/2013. More info below under Accruals.


The need for a campus center to house student activities was recognized as early as 1928.  In that year UNT alumni started a fund drive to construct a memorial tower dedicated to the veterans of World War I.  The tower was designed by UNT alumnus O’Neal Ford.  Plans were for a 130 foot tower with chimes to replace the curfew bell, two electric clocks, and offices for the Ex-Student Association.  By 1931, Ford had incorporated the tower into a union.  The depression made it impossible to raise the funds for the structure.

By 1944-1945 a College Club House was opened on Ave. A and Sycamore Street.  It was called the “The Student Center” the following year.  The plan was to use this structure as a union until war priorities were lifted and a permanent structure could be built.

In 1948 construction started on an army surplus building to be the core of the new union. A brick veneer and two wings were added to the structure. A bookstore, post office, cafeteria, snack bar, meeting rooms, an office for the Ex-Students Association, and a large center room for dances and gatherings (the Howdy Room) were incorporated into the structure. The union was located on Chestnut Street.  It was two stories high and had a basement. The interior was decorated with a western theme – wagon wheels, barrel bases for lamps, and rustic wood furniture. The Memorial Union Building was dedicated on March 31, 1949, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the legislative act providing for the establishment of UNT as a state institution. A bronze plaque with the names of 147 former students who died in service was erected in the main foyer. Major General Roger Ramey, a UNT alumnus and later UNT regent, was the speaker.

The university’s growth led to the need for a larger union building by the 1960s.  The new structure was built in two sections.  The first wing was started in 1963 and opened in 1964. Then the old building was demolished and the main wing of the new union was built on the original Union site. It was opened in 1965.

In May 1973 the Board of Regents approved an expansion of the Union. One wing of the second Union was razed and the new structure was built around the remaining wing.   The bookstore and Post Office were retained in the surviving wing.  The expanded Union contained a central courtyard with a horizontal fountain on one side, the One O’clock Lounge, the Avesta Lounge (a quiet study area), meeting rooms (the Silver and Golden Eagle Suites, and the Denton Suite), offices for student services, the Campus Chat (a grill), The Corner (originally an ice cream parlor), the Rock Bottom Lounge (a bar) and the Syndicate (a game room) Later additions included the Mini Store (a trade bookstore), a food court, the Avesta (a restaurant).

In the 1990s students voted down a proposed expansion of the Union.  The poor economy was thought to have played a part in the students’ rejection of the planned enhancements to the facility. It was not until 2012 that the Student Government Association successfully put the idea of a new Union to a student wide vote. The students approved the referendum in April 2012.  In 2013 the first phase of construction started.  The new Union is expected to be finished by 2015.

Union Directors:

Harold Farmer

Hall Miller

Dorothy Pijan

Mike Maturea

Mary Yates

Jim Nicklas

Tom Rufer

Zane Reif

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The items in this collection were gathered and maintained by the University Union Administation and the Union's Design Works staff.  The items reflect the history of the unions on campus, the activities, the publications produced by and for the Union, and the organizations the Union served.  The collection contains publications, photographs, clippings, and artifacts.

Access Information

Access Restrictions:

This collection is not restricted.

Use Restrictions:

Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Archives and Rare Books department. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Physical Access Note:

This collection is stored off-site and requires a minimum of 24 hour notice prior to use.

Reading Room or Duplication Requests

Depending on any access restrictions noted above, you may be able to request items be delivered to our reading room, or that we make reproductions for you. Just click on either the or icons in the listings below to be routed to our request form.

Administrative Information

Repository: University Archives
Accruals: 2013-25
Acquisition Source: Design Works (Analise Minjarex and Steve Meehin)
Acquisition Method: Gift
Preferred Citation: University Union Collection, University of North Texas Libraries


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