The University Record, August 19, 1998
North Hall, home of ROTC, once housed patients, doctors
By Rebecca A. Doyle
Students, faculty and staff trudge by it every day, many of them not even noticing the building that is tucked behind the Exhibit Museum on a small hill. North Hall, home for nearly 40 years to University students enrolled in the Navy, Army and Air Force officer training programs, has been a part of the campus since the land was acquired in 1899.
In 1900, North Hall was built to accommodate the growth in the program in homeopathic medicine. As part of the School of Medicine and what was called for years the "old hospital group," North Hall housed facilities for surgery, a dispensary, and training and office space for the medical staff of nurses and doctors. There was room for 140 patients in wards and a few private rooms on upper floors of the building.
Margaret Durham, who retired from nursing in 1984, remembers that her parents met and worked in North Hall early in the century. Her father was a doctor there and her mother, Rose, was a nurse.
"I remember my mother talking about the epidemic they had here in 1916, and how all the beds were full," she said on a recent tour of the facility. "Patients were all over the place, and they couldn't treat them fast enough." Hosted by George Perrault, an Air Force officer, Durham walked through the entire building, reminiscing about the uses it had seen and the relics of its days as a medical facility.
In some places, Durham picked out wider doorways built to accommodate stretchers and gurneys, saw containers and recesses in the walls that she speculated were used to store and dispense drugs, and visited the lowest floor of the facility, which probably was a morgue and is still referred to as the morgue by ROTC students who use it for the annual Halloween haunted house.
The Homeopathic Hospital remained until only 1922, and the Regents changed the name of the building to South Department Hospital in 1926. In 1940, the building housed the University Extension Service and the Navy ROTC program, and was renamed North Hall.
Although North Hall was a hospital for only about 25 years, the building still shows marked signs of its early occupation and has been changed very little structurally. There are no regularly scheduled tours of the building, but visitors will be welcomed. Those interested in seeing the building and learning more about its history should call the Air Force ROTC office, 764-2403.