When McMaster University made its way from Toronto and relocated to Hamilton in 1930, there were a few buildings on campus to house the business of academia. By today’s standards, the campus was sparse and there was a lot of room to grow.
By the 1950s it was clear that more facilities were needed. The Memorial Campaign was undertaken by the McMaster Alumni Association to raise funds for the construction of the new student centre. Alumni responded generously, and Alumni Memorial Hall was built in 1951 using the $100,000 raised. Alumni Memorial Hall matched the collegiate gothic style of the original 5 buildings on campus and opened on the same day as Mills Library.
Alumni Memorial Hall was named in honour of McMaster students and alumni who had given their lives in the two world wars. There are two plaques inside to remember those men, one for each war. Outside of the building is another plaque honouring alumni who died in Afghanistan, and a bench recognizing McMaster’s 1946 Special Session Veteran’s Entrance Class. You can read more about the McMaster soldiers lost in WWII on the virtual Honour Roll undertaken by Professor Emeritus of History, Charles M. Johnston, Class of 1949.
The building originally housed a cafeteria, lounges for men and women, and a common room in addition to the offices for the McMaster Alumni Association. Students of the time referred to the building as the Buttery, and it was a favourite place to go to play bridge or relax.
Inside, you may have seen this incredible stained glass window known as the Moulton Window from Senator McMaster and Susan Moulton McMaster’s home in Toronto and features the McMaster family crest. Originally located in the Gilmour Hall stairwell, the window was moved to its current location with funds raised by the McMaster Alumni Association.
The McMaster family crest later became the McMaster University coat of arms. A beautiful carved version of the coat of arms can also be found in Alumni Memorial Hall, a gift from the McMaster classes of 1954 and 1955.
Alumni Memorial Hall served as student centre until 1961 when Wentworth House opened.
Originally known as the Faculty Club, The University Club of McMaster now occupies most of the space in Alumni Memorial Hall. There are plenty of benches and gardens surrounding Alumni Memorial Hall, and they are all wonderful places to admire the historical significance and honour the sacrifice commemorated in the origins of this building.