Arts & Sciences Departments

John E. Conner Museum

History of Loftin Hall

Loftin and Dormitories, Postcard Image c. 1935

Loftin Hall was constructed in 1935 by the firm of H.H. Moeller of San Antonio through funding provided by the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (later renamed the Public Works Administration), one of the many agencies created under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Program. Situated between the original men’s dormitory, Edwin Seale Hall (razed in 2019), on its east side, and the women’s dormitory, Robert B. Cousins Hall, on its west side, Loftin Hall served as the campus dining hall. The building was named for the university’s third president, James Otis Loftin. Designed in the Mission Revival style by architect John M. Marriott, the building boasted hand-painted beams and Mexican tile floors; a beautiful addition to the university campus, it quickly became a popular gathering place for students. Originally, student waiters brought food to the diners; these were replaced in the 1940s with a standard cafeteria service line.

In addition to serving as the campus dining hall, Loftin Hall hosted a variety of student social functions. With the tables out away, the building’s tile floors and high ceilings provided the ideal setting for live bands during the 1930s and ‘40s. In the mid-'40s prior to the construction of the new Memorial Student Union building in 1950, the main lobby served as the venue for the “Little Union Building”—an open space with a 1945 Wurlitzer "Victory" model jukebox where students could gather and dance. In the 1950s, the building was expanded with the addition of east and west wings to the lobby. As new cafeteria facilities were constructed in the 1960s, Loftin Hall's significance began to fade; it was last used for student dining in 1974. In 1976, the building was restored and repurposed as the new location of the John E. Conner Museum—a role it still serves today.

Loftin and Dormitories, Postcard Image c. 1935
Rear of Loftin Hall, 1938
Students Lounging in Loftin Hall, 1938
Originally, waiters nicknamed "hash slingers" served students, 1937
Later, students followed a serving line, 1956
Halloween Dinner at Loftin Hall, 1940
"Supper at Loftin Hall is never Dull" - 1954 Yearbook Caption
Female Vocalist Entertains at Big Band Dance in Loftin, 1938
Students Dancing in the Lobby
Staff of the South Texan (Campus Newspaper) on Loftin Hall Steps, 1941
Sorority on Loftin Hall Steps, 1938
Snow at Loftin Hall, 1938
Snow at Loftin Hall, 2004
Conner Museum Entrance, 1977
Conner Museum Entrance, 2013