A building in neglect

Lexy Gross/The News Broken glass and cluttered hallways are a few of the many signs of vacancy and neglect in Woods Hall.

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Dark hallways, broken glass on the floors, messages written in dust and no ventilation – the place looks like a scene from a horror film, but instead is the inside of a University building.

Woods Hall, which houses International Studies and several art studios, is open to anyone during operating hours, but doors leading to the third floor, which is used solely for storage, were unlocked.



The building, named for the fifth president of Murray State, Ralph H. Woods, was designed as a women’s dormitory. It was constructed on the corner of 14th Street and Olive Boulevard at a cost of almost $1.1 million and was first occupied in the spring of 1957.

Like its sister building, Ordway Hall, which was also used for residential purposes, the parts of the building not in use have deteriorated. Ordway was demolished during summer, except for the front facade.

In 1965, carpet was installed in the hallways, and air conditioning was provided for the lobby and study rooms at a cost of $45,828. Woods Hall ceased operations as a dormitory in the early 1990s and soon after became office space for International Affairs.



Woods Hall is part International Affairs office, part art studio and part storage.

Kim Oatman, director of Facilities Management, said with exception of a few rooms on the second floor used by the Art Department, the upper floors have been used as storage for the past 20 years.

Oatman said the upper floors are used for storage because they are not functional enough to be a residential college.

“The decision was made many years ago to not occupy the upper floors with people,” he said. “The elevator does not work, and the H-VAC and plumbing on most of the upper floors are not in service.”

Along with the elevator not functioning, graffiti covered the halls, lights flickered and ventilation was non-existent. Broken mirrors, admit one tickets and paper towels lined the hallways of the former residential area.

Interim president Tim Miller, said since the demolition of Ordway Hall, the University has had less storage space, which is the main reason why the upper floor of Woods Hall houses surplus.

“We have a real storage problem,” Miller said. “But the intent in the master plan is to take down Woods (Hall) too, which is going to be another storage problem.”


Lexy Gross/The News A service elevator on the third floor of Woods Hall bears an inscription and drawing left with spray paint.

Lexy Gross/The News
A service elevator on the third floor of Woods Hall bears an inscription and drawing left with spray paint.


Oatman said the cost to renovate the upper floors of Woods is prohibitive, and those floors currently meet the demand for campus storage space.

“The only talk about replacing the building comes with the long term planning discussion for a library,” Oatman said. “The area of Woods Hall is in the master plan as a potential site for a library, but that is long-term.”

“It would take significant costly renovations in order to be able to occupy the upper floors, so I suspect they will remain as storage only,” he said.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the plan was to originally renovate Woods Hall, not replace the building.

“We even had a plan drawn up, remodeled single dorms for upperclassmen, but then that idea got scrapped, then it became International Affairs and some art studies,” he said. “There was some talk of tearing it down, so the whole thing was pretty much gutted. That’s why above the third floor is not functional – no air, no plumbing.”

He said when the International Affairs office moved into Woods Hall, maintenance had to be done for new utilities such as heating, plumbing and lights.

Robertson said Woods Hall is adequate for the needs of the International Student Program for now.

“Right now we’ve got record numbers of ESL (English as a Second Language) students – the highest we have ever had,” Robertson said.

Robertson said Woods Hall is not the best option for international students, but it is the only option the University has at the present time.


Story by Meghann Anderson, News Editor

4 Comments on "A building in neglect"

  1. Marsha L. Dorgan | September 6, 2013 at 1:23 pm |

    I lived here from 1969-1974 and loved it. It was a good place to live and we never had air conditioning while I was there. Just window fans. I would hate to see it toen down just because they do not want to keep it up. it is centrally located and it is not that old. It is built well and just needs some TLC…please do not get rid of it like you did Ordway. Just put it back and let the 2nd and 3rd floors be dorm rooms. There is a basement there that could be storage. Would be cheaper to put up a metal building somewhere to store the junk than to tear up a good dorm to use for storage. Not very smart thinking in my mind.

  2. My Mom lived there in the 50's Please do not tear it down, I have a Picture of my Parents and their car in front of Woods hall, Please keep woods hall open I like the way Murray State looked when I was little it does not look right with buildings torn down and new buildings up where there used to be streets! it is sad the way it is now :'(

  3. If You do not have the money for the tender loving care it need get volunteers to come and clean it up, volunteers who want to see woods hall stay and NOT be tore down, too many building have been tore down instead of trying to save them!

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