Digging through Pugsley Hall history


Pugsley Hall has been remodeled multiple times. With each renovation, a piece of history is left behind.

Hidden aspects of Pugsley have been covered up through various renovations, said Les Olive, director of campus planning.

“It reflects the change of use of the building,” Olive said.

The building is part of the original South Dakota State campus. It was initially the Student Union in the early 1940s and was named after Charles William Pugsley, South Dakota State’s eighth president.

Pugsley started at SDSU as the assistant secretary of agriculture and then served as president from 1923 until 1940. He served a 17-year term, the second-longest term of any SDSU president.

The Student Union later became an academic building in the ‘70s when the current Union was built. 

Throughout its history, the building has housed several departments, including theatre, music, agricultural communications, English, mass communication studies, public radio and television and early childhood development.

Pugsley’s first level features a preschool program and kindergarten classroom for the early childhood development department. A playground was added to the school in 2009. 

Pugsley currently houses the Communication Studies and Theatre Department, the Information Technologies Center and the Department of English’s offices and faculty. 

“The first time I walked into Pugsley I thought I was in the wrong building. I am a speech comm. major and I saw a preschool as soon as I walked in,” said sophomore Christine Morgan. 

The three-story brick structure was funded by student fees matched by the Federal Public Works Administration. As the Student Union, it contained meeting rooms, dining halls, banquet halls, lounges and game rooms as well as the Bunny Ballroom. 

The Bunny Ballroom was the original ballroom when Pugsley was still the Student Union. The ballroom functioned as a large event room, much like the Volstorff Ballroom is used today. 

An image of Jack the Jackrabbit made from plaster was plastered onto the former ballroom wall.  but people are not able to see the image because an acoustic ceiling covers it up.

 The Jungle is another feature that remains as an invisible history from Pugsley’s time as the Student Union.

The Jungle was a hangout and cafeteria area for students. The area received its name from foliage painted on the walls. In the ‘90s, the Jungle was transformed into a practice area for the theatre students, though the décor mostly stayed.

The most noticeable aspect causing confusion for students is the misleading staircase. This was a result of a construction project when the area was remodeled for a public television program. 

“I have circled around the building for an office, and sometimes I have to stop and ask for directions,” said Megan Caldwell, junior English major. 

Pugsley was remodeled to acquire a conference space and while building the conference room, the floor stuck out over the staircase. Since the wall was built too close to the room, they closed off the staircase.

 According to Olive, the hidden features of Pugsley might see the light of day once again, depending on the needs of the departments in the building. He said in the next two to three years the building will have the chance to remodel again.

“Pugsley is a very substantially-built building, durably built and has proven to be reasonably flexible overtime,” Olive said.