Life was a lot different in 1948, when the new East Hall opened for men. Students’ rooms and lounges included ash trays. East Hall gave students a comfortable living space complete with a lounge on each floor, recreation room, snack bar and laundry room. Meanwhile, women enjoyed Laura J. Yeater Hall, built eight years earlier and marketed as a “home away from home,” complete with powdering rooms and a rooftop tanning area.
Today, while other residence halls fill up, East Hall – now Diemer Hall – and Yeater Hall both sit unoccupied with locked doors. The halls were pushed into obsolescence after their occupancy numbers dwindled.
Brenda Moeder, director of Housing facilities and operations, said Diemer and Yeater closed May 2015.
Patrick Bradley, associate vice provost for student auxiliaries, said multiple factors caused the two residence halls to be closed, including the lack of modern HVAC systems, the need for major work and an overall lack of the need for excess housing.
“As you can imagine in Missouri, non-air conditioned buildings are not very popular,” Bradley said. “Those are our only two facilities that do not have air conditioning.” Bradley said that the halls are heated with steam, which does not allow the resident to adjust it.
Bradley said the university has performed multiple studies to determine whether the halls can be repurposed and how much such renovations and repairs would cost.
“We’ve talked about a lot of different things,” Bradley said. “But it all comes down to who has the money and where it’s going to come from. I would anticipate that until our economy turns around and we get more financial resources, the halls will probably sit vacant for a while.”
Major renovations, estimated to cost in excess of $6 million, would need to be done to make Diemer Hall livable. Bradley said instead of funding the renovations of Diemer and Yeater halls, Housing funds were instead invested in building The Crossing – South at Holden.
Bradley said a renovation was originally planned for Diemer, but the lack of accessibility and lack of need for excess housing units discouraged the renovation. Studies were done on whether or not the halls could house apartments, but the idea was limited by the expensive costs.
Demolition of Diemer and Yeater Halls have been ruled out due to their appearance being in line with the 2009 Housing Master Plan, as well as criticism the university received from alumni after Selmo Park was demolished.
“Both Yeater’s front entry and Diemer are aesthetically pleasing, according to our master plan,” said Bradley. “Structurally, for the most part, they’re pretty good. They also have a nice appearance when you’re looking at them from the outside.”
Bradley said that while both halls are aesthetically pleasing, it is likely they will not be renovated until the need for excess housing arises.
The Arthur McClure Archives have collected memorabilia, documents and photographs of both Yeater and Diemer halls over the years.
Have memories from Diemer and/or Yeater Halls? If so, we’d be happy to hear them. Please leave a comment.