Barracks for Classrooms

By Brian Brennan

Maag Library’s digital archives include a rare aerial photograph of the Youngstown College campus taken in 1947. In the center of the photo appears a square-looking, nondescript edifice.

Diagonally above and to the right, four other similar structures are to be found. Their appearance is incongruous with the surrounding architecture. Nevertheless, the acquisition of these plain buildings would be the first step in the continuing expansion of the YSU campus.

With the end of the Second World War, thousands of discharged American service members were given the chance to further their education through the G.I. Bill. College and university campuses throughout the United States were flooded with applications.

Youngstown College was no exception. However, YoCo had to turn away many potential students. There simply was not enough space to accommodate this sudden influx.

Fortunately, someone had a solution to this dilemma: the United States Government.

After the war, the Federal Works Agency was tasked with the disposal of surplus military equipment and materiel. In 1946, YoCo president Howard Jones contacted the FWA and negotiated the acquisition of four barracks from Camp Perry, Ohio.

The FWA arranged for the dismantling, relocation and on-site reassembly of the buildings. Four barracks arrived in Youngstown in 1947. A fifth would be added in 1948.

Each barracks was constructed of wood and consisted of two floors — complete with electricity and plumbing — and was designed by the War Department to be only temporary in nature. Although years later, many of these buildings defied expectations and remained in use by the U.S. Army.

Once the barracks were reassembled on campus, two would be refitted for instructional use; the remaining ones were to be set aside for faculty and administrative offices.

Although austere in appearance, to put it kindly, these buildings provided much needed space. An additional 400 students could now be admitted.

The four original barracks were never named; they were simply referred to as “annexes.” Each tended to shake and groan during heavy storms, adding an element of adventure to one’s college experience.

In 1953, when a classroom wing was added to the new library building, now Tod Hall, the annexes became superfluous. In a short time, they would be demolished, with the last annex coming down in 1959 to make way for the new science building, now Ward Beecher Science Hall.