MOVE Investigates: The top of Memorial Union

We get to the top of Memorial Union’s tower.

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Question: What's inside the top of the Memorial Union castle?

Memorial Union is a well-known landmark at MU. Its grand tower can be seen from almost anywhere on campus. Which leads us to the question, “can students go to the top of the tower?” Unfortunately, no, not just anyone can go to the top, because it does not comply with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The act enforces certain design requirements for all public buildings. All three accessible floors of Memorial Student Union follow these criteria, but the tower does not. There is an old, black, iron spiraling staircase that leads to the top of the tower where there is uneven flooring — a big tripping hazard.

Michelle Froese, a senior staff member at Memorial Union, said that in the 1980s a tornado came through campus and caused one of the hands to fall off of the clock. Whenever the tower of Memorial Union needs any maintenance done, like setting the clock, maintenance staff go to the top to fix it.

The idea for constructing Memorial Union came from students and alumni to honor the fallen students of Mizzou during World War I. Building began in 1921. The first structure built was the tower, completed in 1926. Construction was paused because of the strain of the Great Depression and the breakout of World War II.

After the war ended, construction began again on Memorial Union, adding a north wing onto the tower for student activities and classrooms. This was completed in 1952. A decade later, the south wing would be finished, completing the Memorial Student Union we all know and love today… from the first three floors.

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Edited by Katie Rosso | krosso@themaneater.com

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