After World War I, the university wanted to honor students who had died in combat, and to serve the needs of an ever-growing student body. Professor W.J. Baumgartner proposed the student union, which, along with the football stadium, was included in a "Million Dollar" fund drive. The site for the union building was selected so that the union and the stadium could be seen together. The shell of the building was completed by 1926, but most of the money went to build the stadium. The incomplete student union was known briefly as "Baumgartner's Folly" but was finished the following year.
Perhaps appropriately, this memorial of World War I played an important role during World War II, when over 500 men in the Navy Machinists Mates and V-12 Program were fed there daily.
A series of major additions and renovations over the years have more than doubled the original size of the building. An arson fire in 1970 during a period of national student unrest required extensive repair. Now, the handsome, up-to-date interior of the Kansas Union serves not only university students and faculty, but also visitors who come to KU for meetings and various activities.
Jayhawk Boulevard and 13th Street|
Pond and Pond, Chicago IL
Gordon Walker, Salina KS
Brick made at Lansing State Prison; trim of cut Indiana limestone
Eight-foot concrete piers capped with iron dowels; reinforced concrete
Reinforced concrete and penitentiary brick
Gray slate; gable, towers, hipped gables
Cut limestone lintels and lugsills
Recessed behind decorated limestone arches; plaques list those who died in World War I