Oklahoma Panhandle State University
Campus History : Hughes-Strong Hall
Construction began on Panhandle Agricultural Institute’s Hughes-Strong Hall on the day before the Fourth of July in 1925. By the end of the spring semester 1926, the new auditorium building was ready for occupancy. Senator W. G. Hughes of Guymon and Representative W. A. Strong of Boise City worked to win state approval and appropriations for this building project, so the new edifice was named in their honor. During construction, one workman suggested that light and telephone wires be placed in alleyways on campus and in Goodwell rather than be unsightly strung across campus. This brilliant idea caught the attention of the State Department of Agriculture, and representatives from that agency came to campus to plan this innovation which allowed for greater forethought for landscaping and construction.
Initially, Hughes-Strong Hall contained an 800-seat auditorium, 5 classrooms, 2 studios, 3 practice rooms, the president’s office, the registrar’s office, and “girls’ and boys’” dressing rooms and showers. In 1938, the No Man’s Land Museum moved into the north side of the building with a total of 15,000 items in its collection. On the first and second floors of Hughes-Strong, the Oklahoma Panhandle’s natural history, art, pioneer history, geology, and anthropology could be seen and better understood. In addition, the area housed the museum’s library, curator’s office, storeroom, and workshop. One year later, as fine arts classes took up the first floor space, the museum moved to the second floor.
After being refurbished and renovated in 1999 to remove asbestos, Hughes-Strong Hall currently houses three classrooms, the choir room, the band hall, the music theory lab, the music library, two music practice rooms, the KPSU-FM radio station studio and manager’s office, a stage scene shop, the auditorium and its original white oak stage floor, and six faculty offices. The auditorium remains the most public space on the OPSU campus as it hosts high school music contests, pageants, campus student activities, FFA meetings, funerals, traveling performers, dance productions, concerts, and OPSU theatrical productions—at least two per year. The auditorium was dedicated as Centennial Theater in 2009 in honor of Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s 100th birthday. Although it remains as one of the oldest buildings on campus, the auditorium still possesses impressive acoustics and historical ambience.
- Sara Jane Richter, 2009