Filed Under Education

Allen Hall (ALLN)

Named for philanthropic couple R. Eugene Allen and Inez Knight Allen, Allen Hall was established to accommodate growing numbers of students from beyond Utah Valley matriculating at Brigham Young University. BYU demolished the eighty-year-old building in 2018.

To accommodate the growing student body, in 1937 BYU began constructing its first building meant specifically for use as a student dormitory. Utahn architect Joseph Nelson designed the building in the style of Jacobethan Revival, including gabled parapets and striated brick, and BYU students donated time and labor as construction workers to help building contractor Louis De Young turn Nelson’s vision into reality.

Completed in 1938, the dormitory accommodated up to seventy residents, which BYU set aside for specifically male students. BYU named the building Allen Hall, after Inez Knight Allen and R. Eugene “Gene” Allen. The Allens were the daughter and son-in-law of Jesse Knight, a Latter-day Saint philanthropist who had financially supported BYU (a loan from the Knight Endowment Fund financed Allen Hall itself), and they were accomplished Latter-day Saints in their own right. Inez had been a student at BYU’s predecessor, Brigham Young Academy’s Normal Training School, from 1892 to 1896, where she studied pedagogy and philosophy. Two years after that, Knight became one of the first single sister missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving for twenty-six months in Great Britain from 1898 to 1900. Gene was also a Brigham Young Academy alumnus; he also studied at Rochester Business College. As an officer of Knight Trust and Savings Bank, Gene managed the Knight Fund. Gene and Inez married in 1902, and they became philanthropists in their communities, following Jesse Knight’s example.

BYU considered Allen Hall such a success as a housing unit that it immediately drew up plans to build another dormitory building, this time for women, which it named Amanda Knight Hall and completed in 1939. BYU Students lived in Allen Hall for the next twenty-four years. Though originally intended only for men, when an influx of female students strained available housing during the mid-1940s, BYU temporarily used Allen Hall to house both men and women, renting first-floor rooms to men and second- and third-floor rooms to women. Eventually, the first floor was converted to women’s housing as well, and men did not fully occupy Allen Hall again until 1953. 

In the 1950s, BYU built new dorms to house its increasingly numerous students, perhaps making Allen Hall less significant to BYU’s overall housing needs. Students stopped living in Allen Hall in 1962, and the Church’s Language Training Mission took over the building to house missionaries-in-training. In 1980, BYU took over the building again and used it to host its Museum of Peoples and Cultures for over thirty years. After the museum moved to its present location on Canyon Road in 2014, BYU occasionally used Allen Hall to accommodate university employees when construction created a shortage of office space.

Four years later, in June 2018, BYU announced plans to demolish Allen Hall on the grounds that its age made it unusable for university purposes. Preservation Utah, a historical preservation nonprofit, objected to the planned demolition, arguing that losing Allen Hall would “erase a key part of the university’s story of historical growth and expansion.”

Despite Preservation Utah’s passion, however, its intervention came too late. BYU demolished Allen Hall in August 2018. As of January 2022, BYU maintains the empty lot as a grass field.

Video

Allen Hall demolition Shared on the Facebook page of BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures, this image captures the process of tearing down Allen Hall in 2018. Source: “Goodbye to Allen Hall.” BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures. Facebook, August 2, 2018. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10156341974613046.

Images

Allen Hall
Allen Hall This photograph was taken in 1938, the year BYU finished building Allen Hall. The gabled windows are characteristic of Allen Hall’s Jacobethan Revival style. Source:

[Allen Hall, 1938]. Brigham Young University News Bureau, 1938. BYU Photographs collection (UAP 2 Folder 129). Courtesy of the University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/BYUPhotos/id/398.

Inez Knight Allen
Inez Knight Allen A portrait of Inez Knight circa 1900, while she was a missionary in the British Mission. Source: MS 29515. Ca. 1900. Jean H. Jarvis mission correspondence, 1898–1904. Courtesy of the Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets/4f53dec3-1a6b-41ff-8dba-5ed20f96fa47/0/0.
Sister Knight of the British Mission
Sister Knight of the British Mission Inez Knight is the fifth from the right on the second row, wearing the slightly lighter-colored dress relative to the other three sisters. To the left of Inez is Lucy Jane “Jennie” Brimhall, her missionary companion at the time. Source: “Manchester Conference, British Mission.” F. Kenworthy, April 24, 1898. Courtesy of the Church History Library (PH 4094), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/record/378d04f3-2c38-421e-ae58-1d4d6fb09027/0?view=browse.
Groundbreaking
Groundbreaking A procession of BYU students, arranged by graduating class, on their way to celebrate Allen Hall’s groundbreaking. Source: [Classes make their way to the groundbreaking of Allen Hall, 1937] (UAP 2 Folder 130). 1937. BYU Photographs collection. Courtesy of the University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/BYUPhotos/id/401/rec/2.
Brickwork
Brickwork The color of Allen Hall’s striated bricks, more visible in this color photograph, are an element of the Jacobethan Revival style Joseph Nelson used in his design. Source: Image 3. n.d. Brigham Young University photographs of Allen Hall (UA 827 box 1 folder 2). Courtesy of the University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/BYUPhotos/id/1014/rec/5.
Residents
Residents These students would have occupied a bit less than half of Allen Hall’s maximum capacity. According to a list of people in the photograph, the woman in the second row was “Sister Gwilliam.” Based on another photograph, she was probably part of Allen Hall’s staff. The residents evidently regarded her fondly enough to want her to join the photograph with them. Source: Image 1. 1964. Brigham Young University photographs of Allen Hall (UA 827 box 1 folder 2). Courtesy of the University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/BYUPhotos/id/1012/rec/5.
Residents
Residents This list most likely names the people photographed in the preceding image. Source: Image 2. 1964. Brigham Young University photographs of Allen Hall (UA 827 box 1 folder 2). Courtesy of the University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/BYUPhotos/id/1015/rec/5.
Sister Gwilliam
Sister Gwilliam The woman on the right resembles “Sister Gwilliam” in the 1964 photograph, suggesting Gwilliam was a member of Allen Hall’s staff and worked in the hall’s kitchen. Source: Image 4. 1956. Brigham Young University photographs of Allen Hall (UA 827 box 1 folder 2). Courtesy of the University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/BYUPhotos/id/1015/rec/5.
Museum of Peoples and Cultures
Museum of Peoples and Cultures Allen Hall in 2014, when it housed the Museum of Peoples and Cultures (which has since moved to its present location on Canyon Road). Compare this image to the first photograph in the gallery; you can see that a ramp was added to the front door, as well as a sign indicating the museum. Source: Courtesy of Bridger Talbot. In Talbot, Bridger. “BYU: Allen Hall.” Historic LDS Architecture (blog), December 25, 2014. http://www.ldspioneerarchitecture.blogspot.com/2014/12/byu-allen-hall.html. Creator: Bridger Talbot
Museum interior
Museum interior An interior image of Allen Hall in 2014; note the mix of modern necessities, such as the electric lights and the signage to the left of the restroom, along with the remnants of earlier building styles, such as the door itself. Source: Courtesy of Bridger Talbot. In Talbot, Bridger. “BYU: Allen Hall.” Historic LDS Architecture (blog), December 25, 2014. http://www.ldspioneerarchitecture.blogspot.com/2014/12/byu-allen-hall.html. Creator: Bridger Talbot
“Goodbye to Allen Hall”
“Goodbye to Allen Hall” Shared on the Facebook page of BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures, this image is from video footage capturing the process of tearing down Allen Hall in 2018. For the full video, see above on this page. Source: “Goodbye to Allen Hall.” BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures. Facebook, August 2, 2018. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10156341974613046.
The empty lot formerly known as Allen Hall
The empty lot formerly known as Allen Hall As of 2022, BYU maintains the lot where Allen Hall used to stand but has placed no new structure there. Source: Contributed by Makoto Hunter, January 1, 2022. Creator: Makoto Hunter
Togetherness
Togetherness Although Allen Hall has been gone since 2018, evidently people are still able to come together in the space where it used to be. Source: Contributed by Makoto Hunter, January 1, 2021. Creator: Makoto Hunter

Location

700 North 100 East | An empty lot remains where Allen Hall once was.

Metadata

Makoto Hunter, Brigham Young University, “Allen Hall (ALLN),” Intermountain Histories, accessed July 23, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/568.