Neale Hall

1920 - Present

Virginia Alice Cottey had long wished to build a proper gymnasium for Cottey. Prior to Neale Hall, the gym was housed in the basement of Main Hall, a space too cramped and dark for athletics, Alice thought. By the 1920s finances were in place to build a new fitness facility. But as usual, the college needed far more than a physical education building, so Neale Hall became a hybrid of athletic, recreation, and academic facilities.

Neale Hall with original third story, c. 1926
The original Neale Hall, c. 1926.
Neale Hall, Rosemary Hall, Main Hall, c. 1927
A rare photo of Neale, Rosemary, and Main Hall ― the entire Cottey campus as it was when given to P.E.O. in 1927.12 Note the street car tracks.
Neale Hall pool, c. 1939
Neale's pool, c. 1939.23

A Pool, Gym, Classrooms ― and Suites?

Neale Hall was begun in 1920, but not finished till 1926.4 It was named after its principal donor, Mary Frances Neale, who gave $10,000 to the college in 1920.5 In addition to this sum, Cottey took out a $15,000 loan from the Farm and Home Loan Association.

The ground floor housed the commercial department on the north side and a swimming pool, dressing booths, and showers on the south side.4 The first floor contained a gymnasium on the west side, with home economics units, a foods lab, dining room, and clothing lab on the east side. On the mezzanine was a room for day students and the dean of faculty office.

Neale Hall's very small swimming pool was finished by January of 1921, and immediately became the most popular place on campus.5 Helen Troesch writes, "Everyone wanted to use the pool and the registration for swimming classes was so large that it had to be restricted to older students."5 The building was formally opened on January 28th, 1922 with a Saturday night masquerade party.10 Students wore costumes representing their states, including a couple of girls who dressed up as a Missouri mule.5

It was always planned for Neale Hall to have suites on its top floor, similar to Rosemary Hall. Cottey catalogues mentioned the future dorms from 1920 to 1925, arranged after "the famous Cottey Plan."4 However, by 1925, Cottey was in dire need of modern classrooms, and the second story dorms were scrapped.5 The top floor instead housed chemistry and biology labs, a lecture room, and four recitation rooms.

Students in front of Neale Hall, 1926
Students in front of Neale Hall before the remodel, 1926.25
Neale and Rosemary halls, 1936
Neale (at left) and Rosemary halls, 1936.27
Neale Hall pool, 1936
Cottey girls in Neale Hall pool,  1936.27

Fire & Remodel as an Athletics Facility

On August 26th, 1937, the top floor of Neale was destroyed by fire, likely due to faulty wiring.1 Temporary classrooms were set up in Main, Rosemary, and Missouri halls. The Cottey Board of Trustees recommended that Neale be rebuilt solely as a physical education building, and that Main Hall be remodeled for instruction and administration. (They also set the wheels in motion for a new dormitory to be built, which would become P.E.O. Hall.)

Cottey junior Marjorie Herrmann (Cox) penned the following poem entitled "Neale Hall," which was printed in the 1938 yearbook:

Wierd, [sic]
Sinister it stands,
Twisted girders,
Chaos, havoc,
Wretched by a conquering foe,
Neale Hall fire, 1937
Neale Hall during the fire that destroyed its third floor, 1937.25
Neale Hall, 1938
Neale Hall was repaired without the top story, 1938.13
Cottey College sports, c. 1938
Students play shuffleboard, ping pong, volleyball, and badminton in Neale's newly remodeled gymnasium, c. 1938.11

Neale Hall was rebuilt without its second story by January of 1938. (The new flat roof quickly became a favorite sunbathing spot for Cottey students.7) The classrooms and labs on the first floor were demolished, doubling the size of the gymnasium to 5,000 square feet.13 The swimming pool and dressing rooms were repainted, and two new showers added. The former day-student room had become the Athletic Association lounge, and this too was remodeled. The furniture was repaired and the walls were painted "cork at the base and buff above."13 The room was also livened up "with a splash of color in the way of red curtains and red and black wall hangings."13 The Athletic Association held an open house in the new gym on January 22, 1938, where various sports were demonstrated and punch was served.

The building was open throughout the day for classes and recreation, and students were free to use the facilities at any time.13 The gym was marked and equipped for basketball, volleyball, badminton, deck tennis, shuffleboard, and ping pong. "Badminton was the most popular of all this year, and many were the birds that shed feathers," was remarked in the 1938 yearbook.11 Swimming classes ranged from beginning to "advanced life saving,"11 and free swim periods were available with a life guard on duty.13 According to the P.E.O. Record, going to Neale Hall was "proving to be a popular form of recreation during the week-end."13


As the most spacious indoor facility, the gym was also used for most of Cottey's parties. Pajama parties, "Hard Times" parties, Halloween masquerades, Christmas formals, and Mardi Gras dances were all held here. Whether dancing with Camp Clark soldiers or being abducted into the basement for a ritual beheading, good times were had by all (or most).

Proposed 1965 Addition

By the 1960s, Neale Hall's athletic facilities were insufficient and outdated. Cottey's Board of Trustees realized the need for a larger pool and more gym space, and proposed an addition to the backside of Neale in their 1965 building plan.14 This would have been a thrifty way for the college to modernize their physical education amenities, but the building was already 45 years old. Considering this, the Neale Hall annex was eventually abandoned in favor of erecting an entirely new building: Hinkhouse Center.

Neale Hall addition, 1966
Neale Hall with the proposed addition to the north, from the 1966 Cottey campus map. Click for full map.
Neale Hall design studio, c. 1985
The design studio in the former gym, c. 1985. (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)
Neale Hall 3D design, c. 1985
The 3D design studio in Neale's basement, c. 1985. (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)

Arts Center Remodel

In 1972, after Hinkhouse was built, Neale Hall was no longer needed as an athletics facility, and was repurposed for the arts. A massive remodeling campaign was planned, but not everything proposed was accomplished. The swimming pool was to be removed, but it lingers in the basement, drained and closed off. The stone parapet on the roof of the building was removed and supposed to be replaced with a new overhanging roof.10 This never materialized.

They did, however, convert the old gym into "studios for graphic arts, design, painting, a darkroom, an art gallery, lecture rooms and several storage areas."10 The basement was partially converted into space for "kilns, glazing, batiking, visual aids, seminar rooms, craft and welding classes and offices for the art faculty."10 3D design and sculpture classes took place in the basement, while the drawing, painting, and design classes were held in the old gym. Through the '70s, professor Harry Chew was in charge of the Neale art gallery, which had new shows each month.13

The art department is still housed in Neale Hall today, despite the fact that in the '70s it was considered a "temporary" solution.10 The building was not remodeled well enough to handle the many necessities of art classes, though. There have been numerous complaints about lack of ventilation, the poor condition of the darkroom, and other substandard facilities.

Neale Hall's Future

In 2008, Cottey College's 20-Year Plan hinted that Neale Hall would be demolished to make way for a new 22,000 square-foot art facility.6 But in 2011 Cottey announced that the new Fine Arts Instructional Building will incorporate Neale Hall into its design, "although the building [Neale] will look significantly different when work is completed."24 So Neale Hall is going to stick around after all.

Fine Arts Instructional Building design, 2010
Concept art for the new Fine Arts Instructional Building, 2010.28 Neale Hall makes up the left portion of the structure.
Fine Arts Instructional Building design, 2012
Concept art for FAIB released in 2012.29 It will be partially connected to Main Hall.
Fine Arts Instructional Building design, 2012
The fine arts building shown connected to Main Hall, 2012.29

More Photos

  Art Department Parties Pool Basketball  
  Dance Gymnastics Clubs & Rallies Exteriors  
Art Department
Neale Hall art gallery, 1977
Prof. Bob Lawrence and Prof. Harry Chew hang a painting in the Neale Hall Gallery for the Women Artists '77 exhibition, 1977.15
Weaving in Neale Hall, c. 1977
Cheryl Perrin and Chris Renner weave on a back-strap loom in Neale, c. 1977.15
Ceramics class in Neale, c. 1977
Malea Eaden works at a potter's wheel, c. 1977.15
Arts crafts in Neale, c. 1977
Prof. Donna Lynde helps Jane Weinman in art crafts class, c. 1977.15
A group tours Neale Hall, c. 1977
A group tours Neale, c. 1977.22
Neale drawing studio, c. 1980
Gretchen Goetting sketches in the Neale Hall art studio, c. 1980.16
Neale sculpture studio, c. 1985
The sculpture studio in Neale's basement, c. 1985. (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)
Neale drawing studio, c. 1985
The drawing studio in Neale's former gym, c. 1985. (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)
Neale Hall art gallery, 1986
An exhibit in Neale's art gallery, 1986.8 (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)
Neale Hall mural, 2010
Part of a mural in Neale Hall, 2010. (Courtesy Tiffany F., cSc 2010.)
Neale Hall painting studio, 2012
Painting studio (the former gym), 2012.29
Neale Hall ceramics studio, 2012
Ceramics studio, 2012.29
Parties in Neale
Christmas formal, 1951
Christmas formal, 1951.18
Halloween party in Neale Hall, 1958
"'Double bubble, toil and trouble...' rasped 'witches' Susan Seymour, Linda Hensley, and Karen Severs at the R.A.'s Halloween Party," 1958.19 (R.A. is the Recreation Association.)
Christmas formal, 1958
"Barbara Kauffman and Stephanie Stephens and their blind dates at the Christmas formal," 1958.19
Texas suite at Mardi Gras, 1959
"Texas suite presents the latest look in the 'sack' at the annual Mardi Gras dance given by the language clubs," 1959.19
Senior trio warbles at the Mardi Gras dance, 1959
The senior trio warbles at the Mardi Gras dance, 1959.19
Mardi Gras queens, 1959
Sphinx Queens are announced during Mardi Gras, 1959.19 Ann Walby, scholastic; Kay Lathrop, beauty; Donnajo Smith, all-around; Kay Fogg, athletic.
Neale Hall Pool
Swim Club, 1947
The entire Swimming Club squeezes onto the side of Neale's pool, 1947.1
Neale Hall pool, 1959
The Meremaid officers pose near the pool room door, c. 1959.19
Meremaids, c. 1959
Meremaids form a water wheel, c. 1959.19
Meremaids, c. 1959
Meremaids pose for the opening number of their swim show, c. 1959.19
Meremaids, 1965
The Meremaids in Neale's pool, 1965.2
Meremaids, 1966
The Meremaids perform, c. 1966.21
Basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1938
Cottey students play basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1938.11
Basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1938
Basketball in Neale, c. 1938.11
Neale Hall gym, c. 1941
Cottey students play basketball in Neale's gym, c. 1940.9
Basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1959
"Caught in a tense moment are Kay Fogg, Nancy Bouse, Victorine Perkins, LaJune Goss, Donnajo Smith, and Jan Burgess," c. 1959.19
Basketball in Neale Hall gym, 1965
Nancy Peterson prepares for the Founder's Day basketball game in Neale Hall's gym, 1965.3
WUS basketball game, c. 1966
WUS faculty-student basketball game, c. 1966.21
  WUS basketball game crowd, c. 1966
"Lose or Flunk" threaten faculty members at the faculty-student basketball game, c. 1966.21
Dancing practice in Neale, c. 1952
Dancing practice, c. 1952.18
A modern dance performance in Neale, c. 1959
A modern dance performance, c. 1959.19 Victorine Perkins, Blossom Perkins, Donna Crawford, Mary Duff, Mary Harrison.
Swan Lake performance, c. 1959
A performance of Swan Lake, c. 1959.19
Balance beam in Neale Hall, 1965
Jan Speers practices balance beam in Neale's gym, 1965.3
Floor routine in Neale gym, 1965
Donna Moore practices her floor routine in Neale's gym, 1965.3
Gymnastics, 1966
Gymnastics team poses in the gym, 1966.21
Clubs & Rallies
Square Dance Club meets in Neale Hall, c. 1959
Square dance club practices in the gym, c. 1959.19 Elizabeth Bunch, LaJune Goss, Susan Seymour, Victoria Liscum, Vrena Pool.
Referees Club meets in Neale Hall, c. 1959
The Referees Club meets in the gym, c. 1959.19
Delphian pep rally prep, 1958
Delphians prepare for a pep rally before the Thanksgiving game, 1958.19
Neale Hall Exteriors
Neale Hall with third floor, c. 1926
A view of Neale Hall before its reconstruction, c. 1930.
Neale Hall, c. 1940
Another view of Neale Hall after its rebuilding, c. 1940.9
Neale Hall, c. 1949
Students pose in front of Neale and P.E.O. halls, c. 1949.17
Neale Hall, c. 1950s
Neale Hall postcard, c. 1950s.
Neale Hall, 1954
Neale Hall, c. 1954.30
Neale Hall, c. 1959
Neale's pillars are quite impressive, c. 1959.19
Neale Hall, c. 1960
Neale Hall covered in ivy, c. 1960.4
Neale Hall, c. 1964
"Neale Hall ― an empty room...a shiny floor...a hollow echo...parties, hootenannies, games..." c. 1964.20
Neale, P.E.O., and Rosemary halls, 1987
Neale Hall with P.E.O. in the background, 1987. (Courtesy Staci Thompson.)
Neale Hall, 2010
Neale Hall, 2010. (Courtesy Tiffany F., cSc 2010.)

Works Cited:

  1. "Fire At College." Jefferson City Post-Tribune. Jefferson City, MO. 26 Aug. 1937. Web.
  2. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1947. Print.
  3. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1965. Print.
  4. Stockard, Orpha. Cottey College: The First 75 Years. Joplin, MO: Joplin Printing Co., 1961. Print.
  5. Troesch, Helen DeRusha. Life of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard. Wayside Press, Inc., 1955. Print.
  6. "Building a Model for Women's Education: Case for Support." Cottey College, May 2008: 4. Web.
  7. Hulett Rodgers, Edy. Interviewed by Carrie Reeves. "Alumnae Memories From the '40s." Viewpoint. 2008: 1, 18. Print.
  8. Nevada Daily Mail. 1986. Print.
  9. Cottey Junior College promotional booklet. c. 1940. Print.
  10. "Remodeling Neale Hall." The P.E.O. Record Mar. 1972: 7-8. Print.
  11. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1938. Print.
  12. "Cottey-P.E.O. Partnership ... Story of Campus Expansion." The P.E.O. Record. Mar. 1976: 2-5. Print.
  13. Countryman, Margaret. "News From Cottey College." The P.E.O. Record Mar. 1938: 12-13. Print.
  14. Bail, Dr. Milo. "Cottey's Long Range Building Program." The P.E.O. Record. Jan. 1967: 16-17. Print.
  15. "At Cottey College: For the Joy of Art." The P.E.O. Record. May 1977: 2-5. Print.
  16. Milam, Dr. Evelyn. "Cottey's Liberal Arts Tradition." The P.E.O. Record. Mar. 1980: 2-3. Print.
  17. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1949. Print.
  18. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1952. Print.
  19. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1959. Print.
  20. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1964. Print.
  21. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1966. Print.
  22. The Cottey Collage. Vol. 1 No. 4. July 1977. Print.
  23. Cottey Junior College promotional booklet. c. 1939. Print.
  24. "Cottey College Alumnae E-Newsletter." Cottey College. 16 May 2011. E-mail.
  25. "Cottey College Building Burns." Kansas City Tribune 27 Aug. 1937.
  26. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1926. Print.
  27. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1936. Print.
  28. "Cottey College Alumnae E-Newsletter." Cottey College. 2010. E-mail.
  29. "Bringing the Fine Arts Together." Cottey College. Video.
  30. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1954. Print.

Last updated 9 May 2012.

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