Renamed buildings and facilities

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Renamed Buildings and Facilities are common on Columbia's campuses. The changing of building names is often (though not always) tied to the receipt of a sizable donation. Typically the building that is renamed has been built by the University and named in honor of some figure, rather than built and named for its original donor.

Morningside Heights Campus

  • Dodge Hall - Known originally as the "Business School" building, it was built with funds donated by utilities magnate Emerson McMillin. While McMillin declined to be recognized in the buildings name, the University named the academic theatre housed in the building in his honor (until it too was later renamed). The trustees voted to name the building after serial donor and fellow trustee Marcellus Hartley Dodge at his passing.
  • Wallach Hall - Built by the trustees to form a matching pair with Hartley Hall, which had been donated by Marcellus Hartley Dodge, it was originally named Livingston Hall, after Kings College alumnus and American revolutionary Robert Livingston. It was renamed in honor of serial donor Ira Wallach, who paid for its renovation in 1979.
  • Hartley Hall (almost) - At the same time that Ira Wallach agreed to pay for Wallach (née Livingston) Hall's renovation, fellow serial donor Jerome Greene agreed to pay for renovations to Wallach. Greene acquiesced to requests from fellow alumni to forego having the building renamed for him, while Wallach did not.[1]
  • Mathematics Hall - Originally the Engineering Building, it was renamed following the relocation of the Engineering School to Mudd Hall.
  • Lewisohn Hall - Curiously, Lewisohn Hall, originally called the School of Mines Building, was in fact donated by Lewisohn himself. It didn't bear his name until its original tenant departed for Mudd Hall.
  • Butler Library - Donated by Edward Harkness, Butler Library was known as "South Hall" until spring of 1946, at which point the trustees followed through on their original plan and named the building after President Nicholas Murray Butler, who had resigned earlier that academic year (Butler had apparently objected to the idea when it was first proposed in 1931).[2][3][4] Although the Spectator referred to the planned building as "Harkness Library" and "Harkness Memorial Library" in its early reporting, it was never officially called that, and Harkness himself specifically instructed that the building not bear the name of him or anyone in his family (though similar to the case of Emerson McMillin's refusal to be honored in the building's name, a theatre in the building was dedicated to Harkness).[5][6][7][8]
  • Carman Hall - Opened in fall of 1959 as "New Residence Hall" (colloquially "New Hall"), the building was apparently left unnamed for years in hopes of bartering the name in return for a substantial donation. The illusive donation failing to materialize, the Spectator urged the administration to honor any of a number of figures, including DeWitt Clinton, Gouverneur Morris, or former Dean of the College Herbert Hawkes in 1962. [9] Following President Kennedy's assassination in 1963, students circulated a petition urging the university to rename the building in honor of the late President.[10] The matter was finally settled in 1965, the administration having apparently resolved to name the building without a donor the prior fall, whenthe passing of former Dean of the College Harry Carman spurred a final decision to name the building in his honor (although Hawkes was again briefly considered for the honor by the administration).[11][12][13] Without a donor, the University instead recovered mortgage repayment costs for Carman Hall through hefty room fee hikes.[14][15] Alfred Lerner Hall would similarly be partially paid for through student fees, and Broadway Residence Hall would suffer a similar fate of being stuck with an uninspired placeholder name while waiting for a name donor that would never materialize.
  • Pulitzer Hall - Originally known as "Journalism Hall", it has housed the School of Journalism since its construction. However the University avoided branding the place with the name of the infamous yellow journalist for over a century, until an alumnus noticed that Pulitzer's donation was conditioned on the building bearing his name.
  • Wien Hall - Built in conjunction with John Jay Hall as a high rise residential tower, Wien Hall too originally bore the name of 18th century Columbians. "Johnson Hall", as it was originally known, was named after father and son Samuel and William Samuel Johnson, the first and fourth presidents of Kings/Columbia College. Johnson Hall was renamed after Lawrence Wien in the 1980s after the real estate magnate engaged in a string of generous donations, including a brand new football stadium.
  • East Campus High Rise - The high rise portion of East Campus actually has a name: Hudson hall, for Percy Hudson, who in the 1970s made the single largest private donation to the University at the time to complete the Fairchild Biological Lab.
  • Miller Theatre - Miller Theatre was originally named McMillin Theatre, after Emerson McMillin, who had donated what is now known as Dodge Hall, but declined to have the building named after him. Maybe he should've taken up the offer, because when the Miller Foundation paid for gut renovations of the by-then dilapidated McMillin Theatre in the 1980s, the Theatre's name was changed to honor the new donor. Poor McMillin is only recognized today in a plaque in the lobby of Miller Theatre bearing testimony to the original dedication of the location.

Baker Athletics Complex

  • Robertson Field at Satow Stadium - The baseball field at Baker Athletic Complex had once been named after baseball team coach Andy Coakley. Until Hal Robertson donated money towards renovation of the field, which then bore his name. Until Phil Satow donated money towards further renovation of the stadium, which then came to bear the new dual name.
  • Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium - For nearly half a century Columbia played football in a classic U-shaped wooden stadium, known simply as the Columbia Football Stadium. In the 1980s, Lawrence Wien paid for the construction of a brand modern concrete stadium. The facility was then known as "Lawrence Wien Stadium at Baker Field." George Baker, of course, had purchased the land for Columbia athletics in the 1920s. When Robert Kraft donated $5 million to Columbia athletics, the football field was named in his honor. So now it's Kraft Field at Wien Stadium. As a knock on effect, Baker Field is now Baker Athletic Complex. At least things worked out better for him than Emerson McMillin.

Candidates for Renaming

In the spirit of maximizing revenue opportunities, based on the criteria indicated above, as well as other factors, here's a list of buildings potentially available for renaming:

  • Broadway Residence Hall
  • Northwest Corner Building
  • Columbia Soccer Stadium
  • Columbia Field Hockey Venue
  • Columbia Softball Complex
  • University Gym
  • John Jay Hall
  • Carman Hall
  • Pupin Hall
  • Kent Hall
  • Butler Library
  • East Campus
  • International Affairs Building

See also

  • Pell Hall - a building for which Columbia received a "name donor" yet never actually built.


  1. Livingston will be renamed for alum, Columbia Spectator, 15 November 1979
  2. 'Harkness'? Or Butler? No! Just 'South' Hall, Columbia Spectator, 11 January 1932
  3. Editorial: South Hall?, Columbia Spectator, 12 December 1932
  4. South Hall to Be Renamed For Butler, Columbia Spectator, 30 April 1946
  5. Begin Work on Library After Commencement, Columbia Spectator, 1 June 1931
  6. Editorial: Columbiana, Columbia Spectator, 15 October 1931
  7. Editorial: Deserved Honor, Columbia Spectator, 4 December 1931
  8. Communication, Columbia Spectator, 9 December 1931
  9. Editorial: New Hall -- Old Problem, Columbia Spectator, 27 September 1962
  10. Petitions Circulated To Name New Hall For Pres. Kennedy, Columbia Spectator, 27 November 1963
  11. New Hall Remains Unloved, Nameless, Columbia Spectator, 29 September 1964
  12. New Hall Renamed To Honor Carman, Columbia Spectator, 5 March 1965
  13. Naming New Hall For Dean Carman Strong Possibility, Columbia Spectator, 8 February 1965
  14. Official Notice Of Rate Rise May Be Soon, Columbia Spectator, 5 December 1963
  15. Passing the Buck, Columbia Spectator, 26 February 1964