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Selleck Quadrangle

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Also Known As:

Fairfield; Benton; Seaton; Mens Residence Halls

As World War II drew to a close, University campuses across the country were inundated with students, former GIs returning home and seeking college degrees. The University of Nebraska was no exception. Enrollment soared in the late 1940s and housing for students and their families became a pressing problem. In an effort to provide housing for students, the University developed an area known as Huskerville at the abandoned military base west of town, but it was only a temporary solution. Many Lincolnites rented spare rooms to ease the housing shortage, and it was common for multiple generations to live under the same roof.

John Selleck, who served the University in numerous positions during a long and noteworthy career, spearheaded efforts to improve the housing situation. Selleck applied for and received federal housing funds to develop new dormitories. The most important of these projects was the design and construction of the Selleck Quadrangle.

Stylistically, the Selleck Quadrangle represents the "new architecture" that swept the country following WWII. Like Ferguson Hall and the Military and Naval Sciences Building, it is simple and modern, lacking the classical details that Ellery L. Davis had incorporated into pre-war structures like Love Library and Morrill Hall. Gone were columns and cupolas. The horizontal emphasis of the buildings, arranged around a central courtyard, revealed a quintessentially 1950s plan. Incorporated into the Quadrangle on the northeast corner were the more traditional Seaton, Fairfield, and Benton Halls, designed by Davis & Wilson just at the close of the war. These three buildings are the last of the traditional designs by Ellery L Davis. After 1950, Davis & Wilson buildings take on a distinctly different flavor, most likely due to the senior Davis's failing health and diminished presence within his architectural firm, and the rise of his son, Ellery H Davis, and other young architects.

Selleck Quadrangle included space for nearly 800 male students, in three new units, plus the three older and smaller units. It included a dining hall and other modern amenities, and provided welcome relief for the housing predicament. The new dormitories were named for John Selleck, who not only spearheaded efforts to build the dorms, but found himself serving as acting Chancellor in 1953-54 when the buildings were constructed. Selleck Quadrangle opened in the fall, 1954.

Source Information:
University Archives, Selleck papers. Prairie University, by Robt. Knoll, UN Press, 1995. Daily Nebraskan, May 18, 1954.