THROWBACK THURSDAY: DINING IN THE OLD DAYS
University Dining Services keeps our hungry campus fed through its three dining halls, nine retail venues, and a full-scale catering program. Food culture on campus has become a crazy carnival of options that include meal plans, barista-made coffee drinks, soft serve ice cream, WiFi and warm cookie night. Our campus dining roots began over a century ago, when ovens were fueled with coal and lunch was a formal affair.
In 1902, when Western was the Bellingham State Normal School, the first dining hall began as a small wood building on the north end of campus in the same spot as present-day Edens Hall. Due to rising enrollment, the dining hall was moved across the lawn where it could be expanded to provide living accommodations for 45 female students. In 1908, the Normal Dining Hall was renamed Edens Hall, after Board trustee Col. John J. Edens. Within a decade, Edens Hall had declined significantly and the state funded construction for a proper dormitory.
The familiar, four-story brick Edens Hall opened in 1921 and the ground floor served as the only campus dining room until 1947, when the Men’s Residence Hall (now College Hall) opened a second one. By the ‘60s, campus dining culture was mellowing out, and self-service cafeterias were in. The Viking Commons opened in ’62, and construction of the Ridgeway Complex gave us the scenic Ridgeway Commons in ‘65. By ’71, the Fairhaven Commons emerged within the new Fairhaven “cluster college.”
Photos courtesy of Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections. Post courtesy of University Residences.