In the mid-twentieth century, Brigham Young University’s student population continued to grow as more students from further afield sought enrollment at the flagship university of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In its ongoing efforts to grow the campus, BYU purchased the building which eventually became Knight Mangum Hall in 1943 from the National Youth Administration (NYA), a New Deal program designed to maintain education and employment among young adult men and women.
NYA built the edifice in the mid-1930s as a shop building to teach auto maintenance skills, and BYU initially planned to use the facility for similar purposes in its Industrial Arts program. However, university administrators changed their plans and decided to use the building as a women’s dormitory, renaming it Campus Dormitory. The decision to use the building as housing was so abrupt that few renovations were made to make it suitable for living. The university filled the hall with bunk-beds, and coeds hung sheets from the ceiling to cordon off sleeping spaces and create a semblance of privacy.
BYU began renovating the hall to make it more suitable as a dormitory in 1946 and added a kitchen, dining room, and laundry over eight years. When renovations were completed in 1954, administrators renamed the building Knight Mangum Hall, after Jennie Pearl Knight Mangum and Lucy Jane “Jennie” Brimhall Knight, respectively a daughter and daughter-in-law of Jesse Knight and Amanda McEwan Knight, a philanthropist couple who supported BYU in the early-twentieth century. Jennie Pearl was active in her religious and civic communities and established a scholarship at Provo High School. Lucy Jennie was the daughter of George H. Brimhall, a former BYU president, and in 1898 she had been one of the first two single women to serve as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving alongside Inez Knight, another daughter of the Knights. Both were considered lifelong friends of the university.
By the 1950s, Knight Mangum Hall housed between 280 340 coeds at a time. In the early 1960s, however, huge dormitory complexes like Heritage Halls and Helaman Halls took over the heavy lifting in housing BYU students, perhaps diminishing Knight Mangum’s necessity. In June 1963, the Church took over Knight Mangum to use as a headquarters for its Language Training Mission, which taught missionaries foreign languages for ecclesiastical missions abroad.
In 1976, the Language Training Mission moved into a new headquarters, leaving Knight Mangum Hall back in BYU’s hands. Rather than restore it to housing use, BYU maintained it as an office space for faculty.
Since it was no longer used as a dormitory, at some point the campus began calling it the Knight Mangum Building. Eventually, every department of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences spent some time in Knight Mangum, as did the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History.
With the building aging and falling behind modern standards for safety, university administration decided to demolish the building. BYU tore down Knight Mangum in the summer of 2008.