The dedication of Walker Hall in 1954 was a momentous occasion, marking the completion of the men’s campus (a 25-year building project) and resolving a housing crisis. In the early 1950s, with the number of male students approaching 600, the College could accommodate only 430 in Smiley and Clark halls. A new residence was clearly needed.
Plans for the men’s dormitory and central lounge that would later become Walker Hall had been drawn in the late 1920s by architect Sumner Spaulding as part of his design for the Clark campus, but working drawings for the building were not commissioned until 1951. Construction of the new, 35,000-square-foot building began in 1952 and was completed in the fall of 1953. The timing was fortunate; although temporary units had been erected for returning veterans, the Claremont City Council, in September 1953, ordered that substandard emergency housing be removed—just in time for Walker Hall to open its doors.
Walker’s lounge, with its glass wall facing Mt. Baldy, housed a game room, student offices and conference areas, a mail room, and a library. Directly below the lounge was an area known as “The Fishbowl,” which contained a music-listening library and an organ, which supplemented concerts and outdoor programs in the Bosbyshell Fountain Plaza just outside its doors. The windows that lined the southeast corner of the lounge could be recessed into the walls, creating an open-air atmosphere.
Walker Hall was made possible largely through the estate of Helen R. Walker of Glendale, who left the bulk of her estate to Pomona College. Although she had no direct connection with the College and had never even visited the campus, Walker, according to her attorneys, “selected Pomona because it is a small college away from the distractions of a large city, and because of its reputation of developing not only the intellectual powers of its students but also their moral and social responsibilities.” The Walker estate brought in over $700,000, at the time, the largest single gift ever made to the College.
In 1954, the Pomona-Claremont Sagehens had their best year ever in football, going undefeated and starting a three-year domination of the SCIAC conference, during which time they won three consecutive conference titles.
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his “domino theory” speech during a news conference.
- Texas Instruments announced the development of the first transistor radio.
- The United States Senate voted 67–22 to condemn Senator Joseph McCarthy for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”