Category Archives: Purdue Buildings

Sweet Shop Still Sweet Spot on Campus after 90 Years!

                                                                                                                                                                          The Sweet Shop has been a favorite meeting spot on campus for generations. Ninety years later, it is still going strong. If the walls could talk, they might tell tales of romance, struggles, friendships made, and futures forged. The Purdue Memorial Union opened in 1924. At that time, the dining facilities in the Union consisted of a cafeteria area with a soda fountain and a banquet service, all operating as one unit.

The first true Sweet Shop appeared in its own separate space in 1927, and was expanded to its present size in 1957. It has always been a special meeting spot on campus and a part of Purdue history. When it first opened, Purdue students often referred to it as the “Sweet Shop Lab.”  They would schedule time in the “lab” for the social side of their education.

As students wrote in the Purdue yearbook, the 1932 Debris:

“The ‘Sweet Shop’ provides a delightful rendezvous for Purdue students. The shop is a nook where students drink a cooling ‘coke,’ meet new friends and release themselves from the usual scholastic atmosphere. This service is in constant demand, and many leisure hours are spent enjoying the companionship of the ‘Sweet Shop.'” (pg 217)

Here are some of the earliest photographs of the soda fountain (Pre-Sweet Shop days).

From the Purdue Memorial Union publication, “Unchanged Traditionally, Yet Traditionally Changing,” 1974.




  Early 1920s





Photograph provided by the Purdue Memorial Union.



The soda-fountain was along one wall of the cafeteria in the early 1920s.





Photo provided by the Purdue Memorial Union




A full house reflects the popularity of the “lab.”





1925, Frank “Pappy” Fox starts working in the Sweet Shop.

Pappy (left) serving students, Debris 1950

Frank “Pappy” Fox was a beloved fixture in the Sweet Shop for over 30 years. He also managed the Barber Shop and Billiards Room from 1925-1959.

Per a Memorial Union brochure, “Frank served up sound advice and sympathy for student problems with his coffee, sandwiches and sodas. In return, the students showed great pride and respect for the Sweet Shop and quickly added a ‘Sweet Shop Lab’ to their schedules. Everyone who worked for Mr. and Mrs. Fox saw their sincere interest and devotion to the student body. Many ‘Sweet Shop Coke™ dates’ developed into romances under the happy guidance of ‘Mommy’ and ‘Pappy’ Fox.”  (Sterrett, Jeff., Gick, Becky, and Mindrum, Bob).

Fox planned the original menu for the Sweet Shop, which was never changed during his management. He developed his own chocolate sauce and blend of coffee. The early Sweet Shop’s favorite and standard snack was a ham salad sandwich. “Pappy dispensed 150 gallons of coffee per day and seven 40-gallon barrels of Coke™ per week.” (Sterrett)

The Purdue community owes “Pappy” much for his dedication to the Sweet Shop and those he served over the years. After renovations, the Sweet Shop became known as Pappy’s Sweet Shop, as a way to honor Fox.


Purdue Alumnus, September/October, 1959

Fox Honored during Homecoming 1959


There has been some speculation from unverified sources that Pappy was a bootlegger during prohibition and used the sweet shop as a cover. When the Sweet Shop was most recently renovated, that tidbit was even used in their marketing, and this is what appears today on a door by the cash registers (click the image for the full view):

Photo taken by Mary Sego

Images from the Sweet Shop through the years


Debris 1944


Debris 1955

Per page 83 of the 1955 Debris, “The Sweet Shop took on a more refined atmosphere as prom-goers rested their weary feet between dances.”

Pappy’s circa 1955 (Purdue Archives photo PPBUC00845)

The Sweet Shop was expanded in 1957 and the next redecoration took place in 1967.


Attendees of the 1960 Military Ball stop in the Sweet Shop for a drink.

Debris 1960

In order to provide efficient service to the many students who used the Sweet Shop, paper disposable-ware was introduced in the 1960s. This was a first in college union food service. (Anderson, Deborah J., Westbury, Edmond P., and Hughes, Melvin M., p. 7).

1970s and 1980s

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Sweet Shop resembled cafeteria-style food-service.

Debris 1986

Debris 1977








2000s – Diner-Style

Debris 2005

Pappy’s in 2004 (Purdue Archives photo PPBUC02352)


Sterrett, Jeff., Gick, Becky, and Mindrum, Bob. 75th Anniversary : Purdue Memorial Union. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University, 1999.

Anderson, Deborah J., Westbury, Edmond P., and Hughes, Melvin M. “Unchanged Traditionally, Yet Traditionally Changing.” West Lafayette (IN): Purdue University, Purdue Memorial Union, 1974.

Debris Yearbook, Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN., 9 June 2017.

Blog post by Mary A. Sego, Processing Assistant, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.  Mary would like to thank Bob Mindrum, Director of the Purdue Memorial Union (1995-2016), for his contributions of photographs, brochures, and most importantly, personal stories in the compilation of this blog post.

Bailey Hall and Purdue’s Musical Myth

Editor’s Note: The Purdue University Buildings Project is an ongoing effort to document and describe every building that has ever existed at Purdue.  From time to time, we will highlight buildings on campus and the research taking place to document their histories.  For a more detailed description of the Project, see Part I, “Beginning the Research Process, Challenges, and Unfolding Histories.”

Through the Buildings Project, The Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center is trying to collect the history of all of the past buildings on campus up to the present. I currently work on gathering the information about the buildings on campus that have been built in the 21st century. These buildings are particularly interesting because of the similarities and differences the physical structures have with older buildings, as well as the donors, dedications, and other aspects of adding a new addition to campus that have changed over the years. I have recently worked on buildings such as The Fred and Mary Ford Dining Court, Krach Leadership Center, Marriott Hall, and Bill and Sally Hanley Hall. I find the information on these buildings through our physical archives as well as archives materials that have been digitized.

Bailey Hall

Bailey Hall

Although the classic Purdue myth made up by students and alumni states that it was John Purdue’s request to not have a music major at Purdue University, the Purdue Musical Organization (PMO) has still managed to surface on campus. I know you’re thinking that this defiance of John Purdue’s wishes is definitely fake, but I promise not having a music major really is a myth. Plus, the PMO was inevitable due to all of the successful musical organizations on campus throughout its history. Technically, no supposed requests have been broken here because music majors are still not an option at Purdue. Almost 80 years after PMO’s founding, its six choral ensembles and one hand bell choir are very successful and continue to grow. Several of the groups have been broadcast on television and radio networks. According to the PMO website, through more than 100 performances each year and over $300,000 in scholarships annually, the PMO has shown how important creativity and hard work really are. Performances like their Christmas Show and Fall Show are annual favorites among attendees. Certain performances are even a tradition for many families.

Ralph and Bettye Bailey at the October 11th dedication.

Ralph and Bettye Bailey at the October 11th dedication.

The Ralph and Bettye Bailey Hall, completed in 2014, is the home for the Purdue Musical Organizations. It features large and small rehearsal rooms, a student lounge and study area named for PMO founder Albert P. Stewart, a music library, and environmentally controlled storage space. Ralph and Bettye Holder Bailey donated $4.5 million of the $7.6 million raised for the building. The Baileys, who reside in Connecticut, have been longtime fans of the PMO. Ralph graduated in 1949 with a degree in mechanical engineering. The couple also established the Ralph and Bettye Bailey Professorship of Combustion in Mechanical Engineering and the Ralph and Bettye Bailey Purdue Merit Scholarship.

The private dedication ceremony for Bailey Hall was held on October 10, 2014, and the public open house was held on October 11, 2014, according to the Purdue University News Service.

Editor’s Note: Erin Hamilton is a junior in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She has worked at the archives for a little over 4 months.


The Purdue University Buildings Project, Part I: Beginning the Research Process, Challenges, and Unfolding Histories

In April 2015, I began working as a graduate student archival assistant on the Purdue Buildings Project. The project, a comprehensive research endeavor of the entire structural history of the West Lafayette campus, is funded by Richard Funkhouser, a former Purdue University Libraries faculty member for over 44 years. As Funkhouser states, “As a librarian and researcher, I understood the importance of documenting campus buildings, interiors as well as exteriors, before that information disappears.” Additionally, information regarding the Purdue University campus buildings is one of the top inquiries received by the Libraries’ Division of Archives and Special Collections. For many years, Archives faculty, namely David Hovde, have been compiling data on the structures of Purdue. Now, thanks to Mr. Funkhouser, a team of staff and students is working to create a robust online resource for the campus and beyond.

1890 Purdue West Lafayette campus map

1890 Purdue West Lafayette campus map

Once complete, the colloquially-named Buildings Project will include a detailed description of every building that has ever been at Purdue. This content will be available for interested parties via an interactive website containing georeferenced maps, photos, and historical information. Indeed, once the information is online, researchers not only at Purdue but around the world will be able to directly access historical documents and data concerning the growth of one of the preeminent research universities in the U.S., thus increasing the depth and scope of scholarly communication at Purdue University and beyond.

Until the formalization of the university archives in 2009, research into the history of the Purdue West Lafayette campus has been decentralized and quite challenging. Even now, researching campus history remains an exercise in patience. In the first months on the project, I engaged in trial and error as I looked for a way to gather information in a way that seemed the least time consuming. Over time, my plan has morphed to gather materials by decades instead of finding one building at a time. Early Purdue building financing, construction, renovation, and use data is often not documented until years after the building was in use. In one example, a building built in 1905 had little to no information recorded in university records until noted in the 1915 Annual Register.

Purdue ladies in colonial costumes on stage of Ladies Hall

Purdue ladies in colonial costumes on stage of Ladies Hall

Other challenges include inconsistent or erroneous source materials; in some cases, building names and usage descriptions differ depending on the source. Nevertheless, through documentation and analysis of the data, I have been able to ascertain probable, if not certain, data about most structures. And the research continues. Indeed, I suspect the discovery of information in this manner will continue during the life of the project.

Personally, so far this project has been very insightful and fun to research. As a graduate student I actually don’t engage with the university history as much as I would have as an undergraduate taking the various school tours or courses across the breadth of campus. However, this project has allowed me to learn Purdue history and explore the campus in new ways. I have found it enriching to learn about old customs at the university and to learn what features were once a part of the campus and what features remain decades after their construction.

Purdue Hall, circa 1911

Purdue Hall, circa 1911

Over the course of the year I have been working I have learned a great deal about the beginning of the University and some of the issues with the first buildings. For instance, the Men’s Dormitory, built in 1872, was first created without chimneys, leading to heating issues. It was also interesting to learn about the Ladies Hall, built in 1874, where women were required to be chaperoned by a female faculty member. Furthermore, researching buildings leads one to learn a great deal about past campus culture, programs, and attitudes. Of note, Purdue in its early years was very concerned about the integrity of the agricultural program and, as a land grant institution founded to promote the mechanical arts, was hesitant to place emphasis on the humanities as a program of study.

Ladies Hall, 1929

Ladies Hall, 1929

One of the most interesting facts concerning the history of university buildings surrounds World War I. The book Purdue University: Fifty Years of Progress states that under the terms of its contract with the War Department, the University agreed to house, subsist, and train 1,500 men in Section A near the end of the war. The Government pledged itself to one dollar per man per day for housing and subsistence, and twelve cents for tuition. Buildings put into use for men in training included living quarters and sheds for equipment. Fraternity houses also took in family members, mostly wives, until they could find a more permanent living situation. At the fraternity homes dances and other social affairs were often given for the soldiers.

Military barracks on campus

R.O.T.C. and Military barracks during World War I

Each day on this project brings its own challenges, yet the team at the archives has been able to research, compare, and combine multiple sources to ensure a detailed description of the buildings. To date I have identified approximately 100 buildings, dating up to 1935. In the coming months and years, Purdue Archives and Special Collection will continue to document the buildings history of Purdue. As Purdue is always growing and changing, so too will this project.


Editor’s Note: Margaret Sheble, a Medieval Literature graduate student within the Department of English, has been a graduate assistant in Archives and Special Collections for nearly two years.