Jesse Hall is the main
administration building for the University of Missouri. Built in 1893 after Academic Hall burned to the ground, the building is one of the
major symbols of the University. It is located at the
south end of the David R. Francis Quadrangle, often called simply "The Quad."
Auditorium, a popular entertainment venue for touring acts, is
located at the east end of the hall.
The burning of Academic Hall
Jesse Hall at the time of completion (ca. 1895) with the original
wings on the dome
Academic Hall burned on 9 January 1892, leaving only the famous six
columns that now stand in the center of Francis Quadrangle. The
fire was ignited by an electric chandelier in the meeting room, the
forerunner of Jesse Auditorium, during a debate.
The "New Academic Hall", just south of the columns, was completed
in 1895 at a cost of $250,000. In 1922, the hall was renamed in
honor of retiring University president, Richard Henry Jesse
In 1932, a tornado ripped through Columbia and caused significant
damage to the building. In 1982, a severe storm damaged Jesse Hall,
resulting in renovations that included a new ball and new slate on
the dome, tempered windows, reinforced beams, and a new paint job.
The renovations cost roughly $390,000 and were paid for by state
funds. On April 23, 1991, an arson fire caused $350,000-$500,000 in
damage to the building.
The building is one of the most distinctive on the campus; the dome
stands a full 9 stories above the ground, and is actually taller
than the building it stands on. It was designed by Morris Frederick
Bell and fashioned after Richard
State House of 1872-1878.
The dome was first lit in
October 1987 to commemorate MU's sesquicentennial celebration. It
is normally illuminated at night by bright white lights, but its
color is changed to gold for Homecoming
and green for Engineers' Week
A winged sphere originally surmounted the dome. The wings broke
from the sphere when an exceptionally patriotic individual fastened
the staff of a large American flag to the topmost part of the dome.
The winged sphere lives on as the symbol of the secret society
The original Jesse Auditorium
The original entrance to the auditorium was from the quad on the
north side. It originally seated 1,200 people, but after being
proclaimed a fire hazard the wooden balcony was removed, reducing
capacity to only 400. A complete renovation of the auditorium was
carried out in 1953 with a design by Jamieson and Spearl
, and today it seats
1,732. Many great talents have graced the stage at Jesse. William Jennings Bryan
famous "Pending Problems" lecture there in 1900. Today, the
University Concert Series books events such as touring Broadway
shows, symphony orchestras, singers, and comedians from around the