Brokaw hall was built in 1911 as Lawrence's first dormitory for men. Before its completion, male students had been scattered across Appleton, living in rented rooms and fraternity houses. The hall is named after Norman H. Brokaw (its primary benefactor), a business man from Kaukauna whose fortune came principally from the paper industry. (Trivia: The Brokaw's were summer neighbors to the Ormsby's.) The hall originally featured a large lounge on the south end of the first floor (in recent years occupied by the Registrar's office), a YMCA meeting room above it on the second floor (currently the business office), and a large dining room in the basement (now the Security office).
The building was originally designed in three sections, with the southern, central, and northern wings only connected on the ground floor. This setup was designed to prevent fires from easily spreading, but presented a significant inconvenience for residents. For instance, a student living on the southern end of the fourth floor who wished to visit a room on the northern end of the same floor would have had to travel down to the ground floot, cross through the central the hallway, and then climb back up to the fourth floor using the staircase on the other side. (Doors were eventually cut through the firewalls in order to eliminate this hassel.)
During World War II, Brokaw housed a V-12 naval college training program, during which time it was jocularly termed the "S.S. Brokaw." (The pillars on the front portico are said to have been painted battleship grey.) The basement, first, and second floors have been occupied by business offices since the early 1970s when they were moved there from the Carnegie Library prior to its demolition.
1. Interior ca. 1915. This photograph shows a student room in Brokaw hall around 1915.
Created by Edmond Johnson
Last revised: Sept. 7, 2002