Ohio Union

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Ohio Union
The Ohio Union
Alternative namesThe Union
General information
TypeStudent activity center with ballroom and theater
Architectural stylePostmodern
LocationOhio State University
Town or cityColumbus, Ohio
Coordinates39°59′54″N 83°00′28″W / 39.998361°N 83.00776°W / 39.998361; -83.00776Coordinates: 39°59′54″N 83°00′28″W / 39.998361°N 83.00776°W / 39.998361; -83.00776
Completed2010 (2010)
InauguratedMarch 29, 2010[1]
Technical details
Floor count3

The Ohio Union serves as a student activity center for students of The Ohio State University. When the Union was established in 1910, it was the first student union at a public university.[2] The Ohio Union provides facilities for student activities, organizations/events, and campus and community interaction. Many student services and programs are housed in the union, along with dining and recreational facilities. It also serves as the home base for the D-Tix program, which provides discounted tickets to students. On March 29, 2010, the current Ohio Union was opened to the public.[3]


Enarson Hall (1910–1951)[edit]

Ohio Union was originally located in Enarson Hall (now called Hale Hall) when it opened in 1910. The 77th Ohio General Assembly provided $75,000 for the construction of the Union. The Union remained at this location until 1951. It was officially named the "Ohio Union" on October 29, 1909. [4]

The Union was initially only open to male students, but female students were allowed to use the Union once per week, on "Ladies' Day". As a result, maintenance fees were only charged to male students.[4]

In 1913, Ohio State University hired Edward S. Drake as the manager of the union. He supported many student organizations including Phi Sigma Kappa and Romophos during his service.[4] Drake managed the Union for 33 years and also managed another student union, which is now known as Drake Performance and Event Center.[5]

In 1921, the second floor of the Union was used by the Ohio Stadium building committee. [4]

During World War I, the Ohio Union was used as a mess hall and recreational center for quartered troops who lived on campus.

Pomerene Hall (1922–1951)[edit]

At the time, the Ohio Union only served as a student hall for male students enrolled at the University. Since few women attended the university in the early 1900s, a student union for women was deemed unnecessary. A small room in University Hall was reserved as the women's social center. It was nicknamed the "Gab Room" and maintained by the Ohio State Women's Council at the time. Women paid a 25 cent yearly membership fee to use the room. As more women started to attend the university, it became clear that the small room in University Hall was insufficient. The Women's Council came before the board of trustees and demanded money for the construction of a new union. The board of trustees denied the women the funds for a new union space and advised them to bring the matter to the University legislature. The Women's Council then launched a campaign to get support of the construction of a new union for the women. Their hard work paid off, and $150,000 was given for the construction of a new women's building. However, construction was delayed because there was a University ban on any type of building construction until after the end of the First World War. After the war was over, another $90,000 was allocated for the construction of the building. Even the $240,000 total was insufficient. It was then decided that the building would be built in two different phases, the first ending in 1919. The first phases included a gym and a recreational center. The second phase, was completed in 1927 and included an indoor swimming pool, lounges, cafeteria and a kitchen for the women. The women's new building was named Pomerene Hall and is now used today for the History of Arts building, disability services and a campus dining area, Mirror Lake Creamery & Grill. [2]

The first co-ed Ohio Union (1951–2007)[edit]

The first co-ed Ohio Union was built in 1951. Before any of this happened though, the students of The Ohio State University came together and petitioned for a new union that allowed for the men women own equal rights and visits to the union. The students felt very strongly that they should have equal rights, so much that they even agreed to contribute to the costs of making a new union. Construction of the new union went underway in June 1949 and it was completed two years later in 1951. This Union housed a dining room, two ballrooms, a browsing library, music lounge, pool tables, a 16-lane bowling alley and nineteen offices used for various student organizations. As the decades passed, the Union made sure to adjust to the needs of the students accordingly. In the 1960s and '70s during the Vietnam War the Union strove to be of service to students that were going through an era of protest and warfare. In 1985, as technology was advancing and the creation of the computer evolved, a micro-computer lab was made in the Union to help students with research and various studies. As time passed, not only did technology advance, but so did the modern standards of living. By the late 1980s the Union began to lose its charisma to students. Also, a study done in 1986 found that about $10 million would need to be added by 1994 to fix the plumbing, roofing and heating system in the union. In 1994 there were plans to renovate the Union, but those plans were shot down in 1996 by the Student Council. Rebecca Park, director at the time, promised to fully satisfy the needs of the students, with the Union Mission by providing the best recreational activities she could. She also decorated the Union with a scarlet and grey theme, matching the school's colors. Even with the changes, the Union still was outdated. In the 2003–2004 school year, a proposition to build a new Union was brought up again, and the three student governments at Ohio State agreed to campaign a rally to start the construction of a new building. To help with the student's campaign, Union staff went to different residence halls and also to any other students who were interested in learning about a new Ohio Union by putting on a 'road-show' exhibit. Finally, in June 2004, all the campaigning was successful and the Board of Trustees agreed with the plans to tear down the old Union and start the construction of a new one. The old Union was torn down in 2006 and construction of the new Union began one month later.

The New Union[edit]

The new Ohio Union, completed in 2010, now serves as Ohio State's center for dining, recreation, meetings, and events. Students at Ohio State helped to decide some of the design aspects of the Union, such as color schemes, types of furniture, and the architectural design of the building. The Ohio State University partnered with Habitat for Humanity during the destruction of the old Union and donated all the useful parts of the building to them. The new Union is a LEED Silver Certified Green Building and has also been issued an official GreenSpot by the city of Columbus, Ohio. Today the Ohio Union is home to four dining areas: Woody's Tavern, Union Market, Espress O-H, and Sloopy's Diner. Woody's current regional manager is Matthew Hughes. There is also a gift shop located in the Union called Station 88. The Ohio Union houses the Office of Student Life, which oversees the over 1,300 student organizations at Ohio State.[6]

Directors of the Ohio Union[edit]

  • 1908 : Aaron Cohn "Father of the Ohio Union"
  • 1913 : Edward S. "Beanie" Drake
  • 1958–83 : Wendell Ellenwood
  • 1983–88 : John Ellinger
  • 1994–2001 : Rebecca Parker
  • 2001–2010: Tracy Stuck
  • 2010–2016: Eve Esch
  • 2016 – Present: Jeff Pelletier



  1. ^ https://news.osu.edu/news/2010/03/29/newsitem2743/
  2. ^ a b "The Ohio Union at Ohio State University". ohiounion.osu.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  3. ^ https://news.osu.edu/news/2010/03/29/newsitem2743/
  4. ^ a b c d "Ohio Union History". The Ohio State University. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  5. ^ Herrick Archives Number 296: Drake Union
  6. ^ "Get Involved". Retrieved 2016-02-03.

External links[edit]