Name Change: 1939
Following the fire in December 1925 that destroyed the Old Main building, the state legislature approved $750,000 for the construction of a new administration building for Central's campus. The building was designed by architect AL Trout of the Detroit architectural firm Malcolmson and Higinbotham and the construction project was underway by October 1926. The project involved the excavation of 9,000 cubic feet of earth. Some bricks from the old building were salvaged for use in the new building; in total, over 2 million bricks were used in the construction of the new building. BB Struble was in charge of the construction, which employed over one hundred men at its peak.
Construction proceeded rapidly, and the foundation was fully laid by the end of 1926. In June 1927, the entire campus was on hand for the laying of the cornerstone by Trout and Struble (architect and contractor, respectively). Also in attendance was President EC Warriner, who gave an address, and Rev. CB Hawkins, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, who gave an invocation. The US Indian School Band also played for the audience. In April 1928, 1,400 students and visitors attended the first assembly in the new auditorium, and the building was officially dedicated in June 1928.
The new administration building featured several important additions to campus. The central tower section, which was designed to house the music department, was the most striking architectural feature of the building. The 1,600 seat auditorium had a stage 30 feet deep with a 40-foot proscenium opening. The library, measuring 50 x 100 feet and two stories high, held 10,000 volumes and had space enough for 250 students. Registrar CC Barnes designed his own suite of offices on the first floor to maximize efficiency and convenience. $60,000 was spent on circulation equipment to maintain the air quality within the building. There was also a women's commons on the third floor and a men's union on the second floor.
The building remained the "new administration building" for a decade, but by 1938 students and faculty began requesting a change. Because President EC Warriner had been so influential in both the construction of a new administration building as well as the general growth of the College, his name was selected for the building. In 1939, the State Board of Education officially changed the name to Warriner Hall, which it retains today. A $1 million renovation in 1975 involved the installation of an elevator and air conditioning equipment, as well as improvements to ventilation and heating systems.
The building was named for the president of Central from 1918 to 1939. Eugene C. Warriner was born in the village of Earlville in Dixon County, Illinois, in 1866. Graduating from high school in 1884, he taught in a rural school for three years before deciding to continue his own education by entering the University of Michigan. He graduated with honors from that institution in 1891, and then enrolled in the Boston School of Theology, believing that he would enjoy a career in the Methodist ministry. However, he changed his mind after a few months and returned to U of M to continue his studies of Latin and Greek. Soon, he received an appointment as principal of the Battle Creek High School, where he remained for three years before moving to East Saginaw to accept the principalship of the high school there. Four years later he was promoted to Superintendent of Schools. When he became president of Central State Normal School in 1918, he had completed twenty-two years of service in Saginaw. Warriner served as president of Central for just over twenty years, during which time the College enrollment grew from fewer than five hundred students to nearly one thousand. Warriner led the College through the trying years of World War I, the 1918 flu epidemic, the Great Depression, and two disastrous fires. He retired in June of 1939.