Previously known as the Student Union Building at Boise State, the Communications Building has been a part of the history of the college since 1941 when it was first built. This building has been affectionately known as “The Corral” by students for many years due to its use of housing the Bronco nation.
Originally used as the Student Union Building, the old SUB was built for a cost of about $26,000. The original floor plan of the building was to include a large dining hall with a kitchen, as well as two lounges and three student body offices. These plans were carried out, but cannot be seen today as a result of the renovations.
In 1951, a major remodel was done on the old Student Union Building, adding on to the structure in order to create more space for the increasing student body. This remodel did very little to the inside of the building, but it did however add to the outside of the building. This remodel was more of an add on to the building rather than any specific changes within. However another remodel in the 80’s transformed the inside of the building into a more modern concept of a school building. This is when the SUB became known as what it is today: The Communications building. Areas which had previously been archways and open spaces were filled in to create narrow hallways and lowered ceilings. The original windows, hardwood floors, chimneys, and railways still exist, but the newer, modern aspects of the building mask them.
The original building had a grand ballroom on the second floor, which had tall ceilings and decorative wood flooring. Today, the area is split up into several classrooms with carpets over the original floors. However you are still able to see the original architecture in the rafters and high ceilings that still remain. All of the original windows still exist and are completely functional, and add a more rustic feel to the otherwise modern inside of the building.
The new Student Union Building, and the same one we know today, was built in 1967 in an effort to accommodate the larger student body. Even with the additions and remodels, the old SUB was not large enough for everyone attending the college. This change in roles left the older building without a use for several years, until it was transformed into the Theater and Music department. Finally in the mid 80’s, it became known as the Communications Building, which is what it is still used for today.
The department manager at the Communications Building, Sharon Brown, gave us a tour of the building and shared some of her stories and some of the building’s. Being alumni of Boise State, Brown recalled taking an intro to music class in the building when it was home to the Theater and Music Department. She said that it looked extremely different than it does now, with more open spaces and elevated seating in her classroom. She also reminisced about the theater that was in the building, and how many plays were performed there when she was attending school there. Now it contains mainly classrooms and offices for administrators and teachers, but the outline for the original rooms still remain.
The main legend that exists in the Communications building revolves around the ghost Dinah. The legend has it that Dinah was a student and BSU, and was stood up at a school dance held in the ballroom, so she hung herself in the women’s lounge. There is no official written record of Dinah or any sort of phantom that haunts the building. However, there are many online sources that dictate personal “spooky encounters” that people have had in the building that may have to do with Dinah.
The Communications Building at BSU is a relic of the past, and a reminder of what life, style, and architecture was like in the mid 1900’s when it was built. Much of its glory is hidden today by the modern renovations, but the stories and life of the building still stand.