Located on the northwest corner of the Oval on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Ammons Hall opened in 1922 as a women’s gymnasium and social center. Designed by Denver architect Eugene Groves, the Italian Renaissance Revival building signaled that the college recognized women as a central part of the institution and that it aspired to grow from an agricultural college into a true university. In 1978 the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and today it houses the University Welcome Center and Office of Admissions.
Women’s Club Building
In 1921–22, when Ammons Hall was constructed, Colorado State was still known as Colorado Agricultural College, offering programs primarily in departments such as agriculture, mechanic arts, veterinary medicine, and home economics. But under President Charles Lory, who had led the college since 1909, it was starting to expand its horizons to include new kinds of students and new types of study. By the early 1920s more than one-quarter of Colorado Agricultural College’s students were women.
Under the leadership of former governor Elias M. Ammons, who served as vice president of the State Board of Agriculture, Colorado Agricultural College secured state funding to add a new social and athletic facility for its women students. Denver architect Eugene Groves designed the two-story Italian Renaissance Revival building, which featured Tuscan columns, round-arched windows, a red-tile roof with a large central skylight, and ceramic tile decorations. Inside, it had an auditorium, a gymnasium, the first swimming pool on campus, and a locker and shower room in addition to offices, guest rooms, a living room, and a dining area.
Originally known as the Women’s Club Building, the multipurpose facility cost about $155,000 and was completed in late 1921. At the time, it was one of the only college buildings in the country intended specifically as a women’s gymnasium and social center; only Ida Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago served a similar function. In February 1922 the Women’s Club Building was officially dedicated in a four-day ceremony that included a pageant on women’s progress, a conference on women’s education, and a dedication address by Ammons. In 1925 the building was named for Ammons upon his death.
In its early years Ammons Hall provided a vital home for women’s social and athletic activities at the college. Women’s athletic activities were supervised by Elizabeth Forbes, who established the Women’s Athletic Association to get women interested in intramural sports and other athletic activities. Community women’s groups used the building for meetings and conventions. In addition, it served as an unofficial student center, hosting alumni functions, faculty receptions, and music department concerts. President Lory described it as the “hearthstone of the campus.”
Welcome Center and Office of Admissions
The function of Ammons Hall shifted over the years as Colorado State expanded its campus and more fully integrated men’s and women’s activities. In the 1930s Johnson Hall opened as the home of the Student Union, taking over some meetings and events previously held at Ammons Hall. In 1959 Ammons Hall became part of the college’s Physical Education Department, but the building’s importance as an athletic facility had been usurped by newer and larger gyms. In 1978 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in the 1980s the pool was closed. In the 1990s the building housed the university’s dance program.
In 1997 Colorado State renovated and restored Ammons Hall with the assistance of a grant from the State Historical Fund. The pool was removed and the interior redone to accommodate offices and meeting spaces for the school’s Career Center. Otherwise the building’s distinctive architecture and design were preserved. A decade later, the building became home to the University Welcome Center and Office of Admissions. Today Ammons Hall is the starting point for daily campus tours and helps introduce thousands of parents and prospective students to Colorado State.