Cost: $1 Million
College officials announced plans for a new college elementary, psychology, and education building in 1956. Groundbreaking on the $1 million building, designed by architect Roger Allen, took place in May 1957. In December 1957, President Anpsach announced the new building would be named in honor of Eugene C. Rowe, and in May 1958, the cornerstone was laid. The cornerstone contained signatures of all the elementary students attending the school in 1958, as well as a photograph. The building was designed with flexibility in mind, featuring movable dividers between classrooms and movable cupboards and storage within classrooms.
The building was opened in the fall of 1958 and saw some significant renovations over the next few decades, including a renovation of the office wing in 1969 and the addition of an elevator in the 1980s. The former gymnasium now houses the Center for Cultural and Natural History, which relocated to Rowe Hall from Ronan Hall in 1975. The Museum reopened to the public in April 1978. A Native American art gallery, started by a donation from Olga and G. Roland Denison, was dedicated in 1994.
In June 1998, a fire broke out and significantly damaged the east wing of Rowe Hall. This wing had until this point housed the College of Extended Learning (CEL), and the fire left many faculty members without office space. In addition to the loss of CEL space and materials, other offices were left covered in soot and the Museum of Cultural and Natural History also sustained smoke damage. The Museum remained closed until September, and temporary facilities for the departments displaced by the fire were set up in the Student Activity Center, Warriner Hall, Powers Hall, Park Library, and Woldt Hall. Cost of the clean-up and post-fire renovations reached $400,000. The 16,500 square foot east wing was determined to be too heavily damaged and was razed. A new entrance was built on the east side of the building, new brick facing was added to the section of the building adjacent to the demolition, and sidewalk and landscaping improvements helped integrate the renovated building into the exiting surroundings.
The building was named after the founder of the Department of Psychology and Education at Central. Eugene C. Rowe was born in Monroe, Michigan, on March 8, 1870. He received his AB from Olivet in 1897 and his PhD from Clark University in 1909. He came to Central in 1902 and retired in 1936. He was the first faculty member at Central to have a PhD.
Rowe was a prominent psychologist. He offered the first Mental and Sex Hygiene courses in the state. He was a clinical psychologist for the New York City Police from 1915 to 1916. During World War I, he was the US Army's Chief Psychological Examiner, attaining the rank of Major. He helped design the Army Alpha test, which is a fore-runner of the modern IQ tests. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a life member of the American Psychological Association. In addition to his work as a psychologist, Rowe was also a pioneer in the controversial eugenics movement. He died on December 31, 1946.