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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
A dedication ceremony was held on May 17, 2013. View the groundbreaking video and time-lapse video of the renovation/construction.
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
A dedication ceremony was held on Sept. 26, 2018.