CSU Archives and Special Collections

CSU Buildings and Grounds History

A history of CSU's building and grounds from 1870 to the present.

Student Services Building/Braiden Hall, 1948-

Three-story brick building with a sign reading "Braiden Hall"  between the second and third story.

Braiden Hall, 1951

From CSU's Sense of Place:  A Campus History of Colorado's Land-Grant University, by James E. Hansen, Gordon A. Hazard, and Linda M. Meyer.  Fort Collins, CO:  Colorado State University, 2018.

Architects – Eugene G. Groves (1948), Architectural Resource Group, Mike Kinzer of the Physical Plant Department

Builders – Brown-Schrepferman Construction Company of Englewood, Colorado (1948), Dohn Construction Incorporated

1050 East Drive

In the fall of 1945, the massive influx of military veterans made additional housing a top priority at the College.  Architect Eugene Groves was commissioned to design a dormitory in a style to match the Johnson Hall Student Union.  It was intended to cost $200,000 to build but inflation and a post-war shortage of materials quickly caused the price to more than double.  Built on the site of the original President’s House, the first building called “Braiden Hall” was started in late June 1946 and finally opened for the fall quarter of 1948.  Eugene Groves designed it to house 155 to 288 male students depending on numbers assigned to each room. By putting 3 men to a room, the building housed 223 residents. 

With modifications made during construction, its final cost was $400,000.  The parents of the late Wade G. Braiden donated $22,000 towards the construction to honor the memory of their son.  Wade Braiden was in his sophomore year when he died suddenly in 1928.  The dedication ceremony for the new dormitory was held on February 26, 1949.  The family of Wade Braiden attended the event.

Besides its unusual floor plan, the original design included an underground tunnel connected this new residence hall to the Johnson Hall Student Union so that food could be prepared in the kitchen of the Student Union and brought over the dining room at Braiden Hall.  This plan raised much controversy as the Student Union Board voted against the idea.  However, on November 21, 1947, it was reported that the tunnel would be constructed, but not to the point of breaking through the wall of the Student Union.  In the end, the doorway into Johnson Hall was installed and the two buildings were connected by a tunnel that extended under the lawn area that separated them.  When the Student Union Annex was built between the two buildings in 1951, the tunnel out of Braiden Hall was closed. The tunnel from Johnson Hall connected with the Student Union Annex’s new game room and bowling alley.

Up until the Student Union Annex opened in September 1951, Braiden Hall and South Hall residents ate their meals in the dining room of Braiden Hall.  The food was prepared in the Braiden kitchen housed in the military surplus building located just north of Braiden Hall.  The new Student Union Annex had expanded its kitchen and dining facilities and was contracted to feed the residents of these two halls.

At the time it opened, Braiden Hall was described as a modern design, fireproof, three-floor brick structure with all outside rooms.  Included, was a lounge with a fireplace and a dining hall that doubled as a study room between meals.  The interior walls were all plastered.  Before accepting the building in May 1948, the State Board of Agriculture required Eugene Groves to guarantee the roof would not leak for at least ten years.  Mr. Groves was confident of his innovative roof design so he filed a letter with the governing body stating he would repair any roof leaks and interior damage for a period of ten years.  In April 1949, the roof started to leak and needed to be repaired at Mr. Groves’ expense.

Although it was originally designed to house men and did so for most of its service as a residence hall, in 1953-54, 1954-55 and 1957-58 it served as a residence hall for women.  It was reported that the acoustics of the building allowed radios, doors slamming, students walking and talking to be heard throughout much of the building.  As future resident halls were designed and built on the campus, this building served as an example of what not to do or include in the newer buildings.

In the summer of 1958, Braiden Hall began service as an office building for the Housing Office.  Other offices providing services to help students moved in during the following years.  In the fall of 1963, a new suite-style residence hall just east of Aylesworth Hall was opened and the name Braiden Hall was given to it while the name “Student Services Building” was given to this unique structure.

In the fall of 1978, renovations took place that added an elevator and connective wing to serve both the “Student Services Building” and the “Administration Annex”.  This was one of the first of many renovation projects around campus designed to give better full-building access to wheelchair users.  Architect Mike Kinzer of the Physical Plant Department worked with the Architectural Resource Group to do the design work on this project.  In the 1990s additional remodeling work was done to update the interior and improve access.

The Student Services Building is now home to a variety of offices including the Office of the Vice President of Engagement and his staff, the Graduate School, the Center for Collaborative Conservation (CCC), Women and Gender Advocacy Center, and the Office of Equal Opportunity.

Note by Gordon Hazard:

Research done in 2014 has led some historians to think that the unusual design of this building came from the fact that architect Eugene Groves had originally planned on having built-in furnishings made of concrete.  Traditional furnishings were not going to be needed and thus circular stairways were designed into the building.  Four of his concrete houses built in the 1930s still stand in Denver as historic landmark buildings.

Known for sure was that during the construction of Braiden Hall, costs rose dramatically as building materials were hard to obtain in the post-war national building boom.  The State Board of Agriculture, who had approved and accepted the building and furnishings design in May 1946, appears to have eliminated the built-in furnishings idea at a time when the building design could not be changed to allow the use of traditional furnishings. Simply bringing in beds, dressers and desks presented a big problem when the time came to furnish the new residence hall.

Over the years, Eugene Groves has been talked about as being mentally unstable and being institutionalized after the construction of this building.  This is a myth and a great disservice to a talented architect.  Two years after designing this building, he was hired to design the Student Union Annex (now Centennial Hall).  Years after his work at Colorado A & M and many other locales in Colorado, Mr. Groves did suffer from dementia brought on by Alzheimer's disease. This contributed to his death in 1967 in a Denver area nursing home and not in an alley.

Sources by Gordon A. Hazard

The Colorado State College Alumnus, June – July 1944, page 3, vol. XXV, number 8.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, December 13, 1944, page 601.

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