Major Renovation: 1981
Named in honor of Dr. Libertus Van Bokkelen, the Maryland State Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1865 to 1868, Van Bokkelen Hall houses the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic and departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Mass Communication and Communication Studies. The building was constructed in 1932 and opened in February 1933 as the Model Elementary School. The name was changed to the Lida Lee Tall School in April 1942 before being changed to Van Bokkelen Hall in May 1960.
By 1928, the Maryland State Normal School had a strong need for a new elementary school building on campus. In 1931 Maryland State Legislature passed an appropriation for the new building and two years later, in February 1933, students and teachers moved into the $128,000 Campus Elementary School. The build was re-named the Lida Lee Tall School in April 1942 as a tribute to Dr. Tall’s role in making the school building a reality.
But by the late 1950’s, plans were being made for an even newer elementary school building, and the new Lida Lee Tall School was dedicated on September 29, 1960. Administrators then began to discuss the best use for the old building.
At the May 25, 1960 Maryland State Board of Education meeting, the board approved naming the old building Van Bokkelen Hall in honor of Dr. Libertus Van Bokkelen.
Over the summer of 1961, major improvements ensured the building could support the needs of several departments. Mathematics, Testing, and Speech departments had their offices on the second floor, with eight listening and recording rooms. The first floor and basement were used by the Art Department, and six sound-proof practice rooms were built in the basement for the use of the Music Department. The only parts of the building not altered were the auditorium and the stage.
Next major renovation occurred in 1981. After a two-year, $2,079,000 renovation, Van Bokkelen Hall reopened in the Fall of 1981 with redesigned spaces to accommodate the needs of the Dept. of Speech and Mass Communication and the Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders. The building had additional faculty offices and classrooms, oral interpretation and readers’ theatre facilities, and a new Speech and Hearing Clinic described as one of the best on the east coast.
written by Nancy Gonce, University Archivist, Summer 2004
edited by Allison Fischbach, Research and Archives Associate, Spring 2021