In 1973, Mrs. Ruth Kellett donated her four-story Georgian style home to the Board of Regents of Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU) "as a part of the institution's Residence Center." Her donation was a memorial to her late husband, Howard Kellett. The Kellett''s had lived in the home since 1929.
M.B. Clarke, the builder and first-owner of the home, was vice-president of the first SMSU Board of Regents.
The Kellett residence was the first permanent home for the West Plains campus. Until this time, the Residence Center had used facilities at the West Plains High School. The new facility allowed the campus to offer classes during the day. No longer were classes limited to the late afternoon and evening hours.
A dedication ceremony was held on July 5, 1974.
In 1977, the Missouri General Assembly appropriated funding which, along with private donations, made a 4,200-square-foot addition to Kellett Hall possible. The addition was completed in 1980.
SMSU-West Plains was authorized $150,000 from the Fourth State Building Fund in 1995 and $268,210 from State Capital Appropriations in 1996 to renovate space to house the nursing program and to add an elevator to meet ADA requirements. During the renovation process, Kellett Hall sustained heavy damage by a fire in February 1996. The roof and third floor of Kellett Hall were extensively damaged by the fire, with water and smoke damage throughout the rest of the brick and stone three-story building.
Restoration of the building, along with the renovation project, was completed in March 1997
M.O. Looney Hall
In 1984, SMSU purchased the 16,000-square-foot Central High School building, as well as the complete former school complex, from the West Plains R-7 School Board for $225,000. Half of the purchase price was from surplus funds contained in the West Plains campus reserves and the remaining one-half came from the main campus reserves.
The building was renovated to be a new home for academic programs at SMSU-West Plains. The project included the renovation of the existing structure plus a four-story 4,500-square-foot addition.
The Central Hall Complex renovation project began in July 1986 and was completed in November 1987 at a cost of $966,000. The renovation was funded through Missouri's Third State Building Fund. The new facility more than doubled the floor space per student and helped to alleviate the acute classroom shortage created by an enrollment of more than 600 students.
A dedication ceremony was held on December 15, 1987.
In May 1998, the Southwest Missouri State University Board of Governors passed a resolution renaming Central Hall as M.O. Looney Hall. Dr. M.O. Looney served as Chancellor of SMSU-West Plains from 1990 to 1998 during eight years of tremendous growth and improvement.
In 2000, a $260,000 renovation project converted Looney Hall into a one-stop student services center to house admissions, the business office, career services/higher education resource center, financial aid, registration and records, and the student academic advisement center.
In 2010, M.O. Looney Hall underwent extensive renovations to convert the former one-stop student services center into an allied health classroom and laboratory building. Classes opened in the building in January 2011 after completion of the $700,000 project. The renovation project provided much needed classroom space to accommodate a growing student enrollment, as well as future expansion of the allied health programs. The building also houses a new, state-of-the-art allied health simulation laboratory made possible with a $250,000 federal grant assisted by 8th District Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau), as well as the Mindy Lahey Hughston Room, which is being made possible with a gift from Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic (PTSC). The Hughston Room will contain specialized video technology that will allow students to watch fellow students react to the medical conditions being enacted in the simulation room.
The Garnett Library is two of four buildings that the University purchased in 1984 from the West Plains R-7 School District. The purchase included the Central High School and the former school complex, which consisted of four buildings: a gymnasium, an administrative office building, an additional classroom building and a shop/music building. The gymnasium was demolished and the high school was renovated and named Central Hall.
A new roof connecting the remaining buildings was completed in 1989. The buildings were then renovated to house the Garnett Library. The renovations were completed in two phases. In 1991, Phase I was completed when the entire building was wrapped in brick and 40 percent of the interior had been renovated. The library was opened in the fall of 1991. The remaining 60 percent of the facility was renovated and furnished to complete Phase II in 1993. The added space allowed for more shelves for books and study areas for students. It also enabled SMSU-West Plains to move and expand the academic support center. The library was named in honor of the Jess and Betty Garnett family for their service, support and commitment to higher education.
A dedication ceremony was held on November 24, 1991.
Putnam Student Center
In 1986, Dr. D.J. and Grace Putnam donated a portion of a building on Jefferson Avenue to the West Plains campus. The property included 3,696 square feet of floor space and an adjoining lot. The building was renovated to house the campus bookstore and a student union.
In 1993, SMSU-West Plains acquired the property attached to the Putnam Building. This additional property allowed for expansion as student traffic moved toward Central Hall and the new Garnett Library.
V.H. Drago College Store
In 1993, a new location was found for the bookstore thanks to the generosity of Vivian H. Drago. The V.H. Drago College Store was designed to service SMSU-West Plains students' needs for books, supplies and college fashion apparel.
SMSU-West Plains' first residence hall was completed and opened for students in August 1994. The SMSU Board of Regents approved the funding of the residence hall out of the SMSU dormitory fund. The three-story, brick and stone building was built at a cost of more than $1 million and houses up to 60 students.
Emory L. Melton
In June 1995, a $2.8 million capital appropriation was approved for the construction of a new classroom building. The 28,000-square-foot classroom building was developed to accommodate increasing enrollment and expanded degree programs. The building was the first new construction project in the West Plains campus' 33 year-history funded by the Missouri General Assembly. The building was named in honor of Emory L. Melton who served the people of Missouri's 29th Senatorial District for over two decades of tremendous growth and change.
A dedication ceremony was held on April 19, 1998.
A $151,000 addition to Melton Hall was completed in April 2002. The two-story, 1024 sq. ft. addition houses six faculty offices.
Michael J. Lybyer Enhanced Technology Center
The Missouri General Assembly included $4.3 million for the construction of a technology center for Southwest Missouri State University-West Plains during the 1996 session. An additional $900,000 was allocated for equipment and furnishings. The 44,000-square-foot split-level building was equipped with state-of-art technology, including a 54-station open computer lab for students. A community-wide capital campaign raised an additional $78,000.
The building was named in honor of Michael J. Lybyer to recognize his "tireless efforts as a member of the Missouri Senate to establish a responsible and effective state government, including his work as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee leading toward fair and responsible distribution of higher education funding among the state's public Universities and colleges."
A dedication ceremony was held on April 14, 2000.
In August 2000, the estate of the late Ms. Oline Richards gifted the home at 212 Harlin Drive to the SMSU Foundation. SMSU-West Plains leased the property for $1 per year and designated the 2,852-square-foot facility as the Richards House. Richards House serves as the home for the chancellor of the West Plains campus.
A dedication ceremony was held on September 13, 2002.
Student Recreation Center/FEMA Shelter
The $2.2 million student recreation center and community shelter provides emergency shelter to students, faculty, staff and community members. In addition, the center houses a gymnasium for basketball and volleyball and a separate racquetball court. It also is used for a host of student-related activities and events, such as meetings and banquets.
The 10,000-square-foot facility at the corner of Garfield Avenue and West Trish Knight Street was funded with a $1.3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and an auxiliary bond (loan) that will be paid with funds generated from a student-approved fee.
A dedication ceremony was held on Sept. 20, 2011.
The $2.5 million construction/renovation project provided a permanent home for Missouri State University's growing Outreach Program on the West Plains campus. The Outreach Program offers a number of undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines locally. The project was made possible with significant contributions by the Gohn family of West Plains. Long-time local banker David Gohn and his sister, long-time public educator Virginia Gohn Sapp, St. Louis, donated their family home to the University to house the Outreach Program in the summer of 2000. A major gift commitment by the Gohn family in fall 2011, coupled with funds from the Springfield and West Plains campuses, made renovations to the home and the structure's expansion possible.
The home was built in 1928 by David and Virginia's grandparents, B.F. and Eva Arnold Wood. The house was eventually passed down to David and Virginia's parents, Dan and Dorothy Wood Gohn, then to David and Virginia in 1994.
Once home to West Plains' Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant, the Broadway Building now houses the University's Physical Plant, which provides upkeep and maintenance services to all buildings and grounds on campus. It also provides storage for surplus property and serves as the drop-off site for campus deliveries.
Located near the intersection of Broadway and Missouri Avenue, Cass Hall is a hub of activity for new and current students. The building, which once served as the local office of the Social Security Administration, houses a variety of student service offices, including admissions, financial aid, and registration and records, as well the business office and human resources.
Just north of the Student Recreation Center sits Garfield Hall, the home of the University's TRIO Student Support Services office. Federally funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, TRIO provides academic and other support to eligible first generation, low income and disabled students to help them transition into college life. Students are encouraged to improve their study skills, explore career options, visit four-year campuses, improve financial management skills and develop leadership skills as they plan for their futures.
This former parsonage on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the West Plains Public Library now houses the University's Adult Education and Literacy and College Readiness Programs. Area residents can utilize the programs' services to prepare for high school equivalency examinations; hone reading, writing and math skills; and complete other preparatory work before entering the college environment.
Hass-Darr Hall is a 18,000-square-foot renovation and construction project that was in the planning stages for 20 years. Passage of a $300 million bonding package to fund repairs and renovations to public properties around the state in summer 2015 revitalized the project. Included in that package was $1.5 million in funding for renovating and expanding the former West Plains Post Office, now Hass-Darr Hall.
The project took another major step forward in October 2015 when the university received significant gifts from Mary Hass Sheid, West Plains; Judge William R. and Jeanne Hass, Springfield, formerly of Thayer; Judge William T. Hass, Thayer; Tim and Missy Hass Myers, Bentonville, Arkansas; and William and Virginia Darr, Springfield. In recognition of their gifts, the facility was named Hass-Darr Hall.
The facility houses the Carol Silvey Student Union, the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program, Drago College Store, tutoring services, the admissions office, the Veterans’ Center, the student life office, and other classroom and administrative office space.
A dedication ceremony was held on Sept. 26, 2018.