Cost: $2.73 million
Brooks Hall was built to replace Grawn Hall, the original science building on campus. The new science building would be the first of a three-building complex of academic buildings constructed during the mid-1960s (Anspach Hall and Pearce Hall would complete the complex). The state approved $2.73 million for the construction of a new science building in October 1962. The new structure was planned for the eastern half of the block bounded by Franklin Street on the east, Grawn Avenue on the north, and Weidman Avenue on the south (these roads have either been removed or renamed since the time).
The building was designed by Roger Allen and Associates of Grand Rapids and was the first new academic building constructed on campus since 1958. At 100,000 square feet, it would be the largest academic building on campus, eclipsing Warriner's 85,000 square feet. It was the first academic building located south of Preston Avenue; with the completion of Anspach and Pearce Halls, the bulk of academic activities would be relocated to this part of campus. The building was designed to house Central's first observatory as well as a botany laboratory and greenhouse.
Groundbreaking ceremonies took place in January 1963. In March, the University awarded the $929,780 general contract to DeYoung Bagin Construction Company of Grand Rapids and the $217,980 electrical contract to the Holp Electric Company of Mt. Pleasant. Before construction could begin, at least one house had to be razed to make room for the new building. Construction was underway by late spring, and the cornerstone was laid in September 1963. The building was ready for occupancy in September 1964 and was officially dedicated the Kendall P. Brooks Hall of Science in May 1965. The dedication ceremony featured speeches by Herbert D. Dean, president of the Dow Chemical Company, and Roger Allen, chief architect on the project.
Brooks Hall became the new home for all of the science departments on campus. The first floor served biology and chemistry, physics occupied the second floor, and geography and geology were housed on the third floor. A large basement section would be used for storage and serviced by a freight elevator from a central loading dock. The observatory, a popular feature among faculty and students, was kept regulated to the outside temperature to avoid interference by heat waves. The relocation of the science departments allowed Grawn Hall to be renovated and repurposed into the new home of the School of Business Administration.
As part of a 1990 renovation project, supported by a $2.5 million grant from the Herbert and Grace Dow Foundation and an additional $1 million from University funds, the University remodeled areas of Brooks Hall and installed new science technology. To integrate the building into the Dow Science Complex, Brooks was connected to Dow Hall by a catwalk. The departments of Chemistry, Physics, and Geography relocated into the newly built Dow Hall, while the other science departments remained in Brooks. The Dow Science Complex, including Brooks Hall, continues to serve as the a main center of scientific activity on campus today.
Brooks was named for a former faculty member and head of the Department of Chemistry and Physics. Kendall Brooks was the son of a Baptist preacher who was also the president of Kalamazoo College. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Alma College, then did graduate work at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago. He taught science in Marquette, became superintendent of schools, then resigned in 1908. He spent two years in Germany studying Physics, but failed his Doctoral oral examinations in 1910. He returned to Central soon after to head the Department of Chemistry and Physics. He also worked as a registrar for the institution. He was the director of the Exchange Savings Bank in Mt. Pleasant, which he helped survive the Great Depression.