Campus history: Haag Hall

Nicole Bomgardner

The highest point of Haag Hall is where the bell once rang
The highest point of Haag Hall is where the bell once rang

The L-shaped Haag Hall, at the corner of 52nd Street and Rockhill Road, is named after Lena Haag, whose gift to the University of Kansas City (UKC) in 1936 made the $225,000 building possible.

Haag’s donation for Haag Hall, student loans and the fine arts program was kept anonymous at her own request.

The building was called “The Fine Arts Building” until after her death in 1951, when the donation became public and the building was renamed “Haag Hall.”

The three-story building originally held 22 classrooms, two large lecture rooms, 11 offices and the campus cafeteria. The cafeteria was where the communications film studies program is now.

The addition of the building doubled UKC classroom space.

Haag Hall is permanent home to three pieces of history seen on display. However, many are unaware of them.

The third floor of Haag Hall has a series of murals by past UMKC Art Professor Joseph A. Fleck. Students were used as models for the four murals, and the class of 1944 provided the marble wainscoting. Each mural represents a different season.

“The Don Quixote Frescoes” is a six-paneled, fresco-styled mural on the second floor of the building by Spanish artist Luis Quintanilla. The murals were completed in 1940 and modeled after people Quintanilla met at UMKC and Don Quixote characters.

According to UMKC archives, “the artist painted on the wet plaster of powered marble and later fired the painting permanently in to the wall so it would last as long as Haag Hall stands.”

The third piece of history in Haag Hall is one that still causes speculation, according to UMKC archives. In the center of the roof on the L of the building, is an old riverboat bell. The 1,100 pound bell is said to still be inside the castle-looking piece on the highest point of the building. The structure, with white shutters, can be seen from some locations on campus through the trees. The bell was used to announce the beginning and end of class periods.

Haag Hall is the fourth building used by UKC, after Scofield Hall, Newcomb Hall and Mannheim Hall.

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