Campus Landmarks: Reese Phifer Hall
June 4th, 2012 - Filed under: Connections
Reese Phifer Hall was built in 1929 and first occupied in 1930, when it was dedicated as a “memorial to all former University of Alabama students who have borne arms in defense of their state or their country.”
Its architecture is distinguished by a raised basement, a classical Tuscan portico and a monumental flight of stone stairs. Like Farrah Hall and Bibb Graves Hall, the major entrance to Reese Phifer is located on the corner of the building.
Before the University’s dress code for women was abandoned in 1970, notoriously gusty winds precipitated a legend that only women of dubious virtue dared to climb those main steps. As a result, coeds rarely used that entrance.
As the student union building, it was a major campus gathering place, housing various activities and offices such as the Student Government Association, the campus supply store, the cafeteria, the post office, the Million Dollar Band and the student newspaper. Many of those activities and offices left the building in the 1970s when Ferguson Center was built.
Alumni remember the building as a hub buzzing with student activity, from pep rallies to protests. Peace vigils were held there during the tumultuous late 1960’s and in May, 1970, students occupied the building overnight in response to the Kent State student killings.
The building then began to reflect society’s progress and modernization. In 1980, it was renovated for use by the School of Communications and became known as the Communication Building. In 1991, it was renamed Reese Phifer Hall to honor Tuscaloosa businessman and University benefactor J. Reese Phifer.
Today, Reese Phifer Hall is the home of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. It houses the Center for Public Television and Radio and the studios of Alabama Public Radio, WVUA 90.7 radio, and WVUA 7 television. Its William E. Winter Reading Room maintains a collection of books, periodicals, newspapers, videos and class reserve materials in addition to a computer lab and media viewing room.
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