Once a place full of life, laughter and library books, Chambers sits lonely and all but forgotten to many on campus. Past its faded brick walls and echoing halls exist the memories of students from years’ past. In its 85th year, the building has seen many changes and has offered students the comfort of dining with friends, late night chats before sleep and even the occasional date.
Chambers will be the second of the eight original buildings to be knocked down, the President’s House, also called Baxter’s Hall, preceding it.
Chambers’ destruction will make room for the Halbert-Walling Research Center, where the science department will be able to flourish with more room and new technology.
When it was first built in September 1929, the top floor was a womens’ dorm, the middle floor was the cafeteria and the bottom floor was an unfinished basement.
During the summer of 1936, because of the unsafe depositing of the weight of the books on the third floor of the Hardin Administration building, the library was moved to the second floor of Chambers, and the dining room was moved to the bottom floor. A set of stairs was added leading down to the bottom floor for students to access the dining room.
Dr. John T. Willis, a 1955 graduate, said he spent most of his time in the Chambers library with friends.
“We were very serious about studying and things like that, so we spent a lot of time in the library,” he said.
Nevertheless, amid all the bookwork, he built relationships that have lasted throughout the years.
“We established real good friends there, and we still keep up,” Willis said.
Dr. Charlie Marler, a 1955 graduate, gained a slightly sweeter set of experiences in the library. He met his wife on a library date, which was popular in the building’s early days.
“Dating was restricted on campus because of a lack of cars, so everyone took their dates to the library,” Marler said.
Marler said he took his wife on multiple library dates to win her over. But even the library dates had some constraints.
“The library was very restrictive about noise, so we had to be really quiet on our dates,” Marler said.
Dr. Robert Hunter, a 1952 graduate, said he loved the library just for that reason.
“We met pretty girls in the study hall,” Hunter said.” We tried to become acquainted and see if we could get them some books there, too.”
Hunter said the dining hall served food family-style with big dishes set in the middle of the tables that students served themselves. He said this, too, was a good way to meet the ladies.
“We boys always wanted to sit with the girls so they could help serve us,” Hunter said.
He also said when he was really hungry, he’d have to be careful who he sat with.
“The big football players would sit down and eat too much,” Hunter said. “We’d have to send the bowl back to get more food.”
In 1945, the dining-style hall was renovated and turned into a cafeteria where students ordered food from a counter.
Willis remembers The Bean cafeteria in Chambers before it offered the multiple options it has now.
“They had a little list of no more than six things and you just got what you wanted,” Willis said.
Clark Potts, who worked in the cafeteria once it was renovated, has memories from his time at ACU in 1953 that still make him laugh. As he recounted the shenanigans he and his coworkers got into, he chuckled.
“I have some memories I ought not to repeat,” he said.
The memory that sticks out to Potts best is meeting his wife of 48 years, Audrey Kitchens, who also worked in the cafeteria. He jokes that by their last names alone, they were meant to be.
“Her specialty in the cafeteria was salad and mine was dessert, so I guess it was a great match from beginning to end,” Potts said.
The cafeteria was moved to Phillips Education Building in 1955, allowing the whole building to be taken up by the library. After a renovation to the interior of the building, an addition of air conditioning and the removal of the front entrance, Chambers was rededicated in 1972. This was the last renovation to the building.
Willis said that while he had fun times in Chambers, he’s not too upset to see it go.
“That building is pretty old,” Willis said. “All human beings and all buildings, the time’s going to come that you’re going to have to change or tear them down.”
Potts echoed this saying it’s time for a change in the building.
“That’s progress,” Potts said. “You can’t keep the buildings forever.”
Hunter summed up his fellow alumni as he said that it is time to move forward. The memories from the building will outlast its physical presence.
“The Chambers family was a great family, and we’ve been so blessed that we can make these wonderful changes, but sometimes we have to adjust buildings that are no longer able to be used,” he said.