The history of Morgan

Matthew Leeper / Washburn Review

For more than 50 years, Margaret Mulvane Morgan Memorial Hall has been an unavoidable stop on Washburn’s campus.

The building, which houses many key offices including financial aid, admissions and the business office, was completed in 1956 after two years of construction. It was designed by Williamson Loebsack and Associates and built by the M.W. Watson Construction Company. At 70,000 square feet, it was home to economics, philosophy, sociology, history, modern languages, English and education as well as the library. Morgan Hall contained 28 faculty offices, 12 classrooms, one lecture room and three seminar rooms. The price tag: $1 million.

Half of the money needed to build Morgan Hall was given to the university by the estate of the late Harrison S. Morgan, a Topeka banker. Over the course of his life, Morgan gave more than one million dollars to Washburn. The building was named in honor of his wife Margaret. Both Morgans were heavily involved with the university, as well as several other members of their family, many of whom served on the board of trustees. At the dedication of Morgan Hall on Feb. 5, 1956, portraits of both the Morgans were unveiled in the entrance of the building.

“May Washburn always be worthy of their generosity and confidence,” said David Neiswanger of the Board of Trustees.

A decade later, Morgan Hall survived a tornado that destroyed several buildings on campus and caused $100 million in damage to the city of Topeka. In 1967 an addition was made to Morgan Hall to help rebuild the campus. The $700,000 west wing added 32,000 square feet to the building including classrooms to replace those lost to the tornado.

Also added to Morgan Hall in 1967 were the four clock faces attached to the sides of the tower in the front of Morgan Hall. The clocks were provided by an anonymous donor and the Altrusa Club, an international executive and professional women’s service organization that participates in a wide variety of civic projects. The clocks were intended to help with the renovation of the campus and replace a clock destroyed by the tornado.

Morgan Hall has changed throughout the years, yet it remains a staple on campus. The generosity of the Morgan family has been felt for more than 50 years and will hopefully never be forgotten.

More information on Morgan Hall or the Morgan family can be found in the archives at the Mabee Library.