Post Classifieds

Pages from Commerce's Past

Henderson Hall hosted coeds, panty raids

By Heather Pilkington
On January 22, 2010

Henderson Hall, now the home of the department of social work, psychology, and special education, the University Police Department and the infirmary, was once part of the social scene on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus.

"Henderson Hall was originally built as a co-ed dorm," University Archivist Dr. James Conrad said. "Henderson was built before WWII, and it replaced a couple of older dorms on campus. At the time it was constructed, it was the largest dorm on campus. For a time, A&M-Commerce had to depend on dorms that were built before Texas A&M University became a state institution in 1917. The school started out as a proprietary private college established in 1889. Then it was sold to the state in 1917."

When the state took over the university, it obtained some of the older buildings. According to Conrad, those buildings were a women's dorm, classrooms and other buildings. It was not until the late 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s that the state appropriated money for the construction of new buildings. Buildings we know today as Ferguson, the Hall of Languages, the President's Home and a gym.

In the late 1930s money came available to fund the building of Henderson Hall. After construction it remained the primary women's dorm until after WWII, when the state built Binnion Hall, which was also a women's dorm.

The dorm had a variety of amenities for the students. It was the place to hang out for the students during its prime. During the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, most students stayed on campus, so even on weekends the co-eds organized a large number of events that took place around campus and in the dorm itself.

"In the 1950s there was a large panty raid on the dorm," Conrad said. "This was where the boys would sneak into the dorm and the girls would throw their panties out the windows. This was a large fad of the time along with streaking. The lobby of the dorm was a place for both co-eds and their dates to hang out. It was often the site of affection, romance and kissing."

The dorms during this time had what is known as a house mother, and a phone/intercom system for the co-eds to communicate to one another if they had guests.

"The University and the state kept a pretty tight rope on the co-eds," Conrad said. "If a co-ed had curfew and if they were leaving, then they had to sign in and out. If they were leaving for the weekend, they had to make special arrangements. It wasn't uncommon to have co-eds attempting to sneak in through the back doors."

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