The Union at Michigan State University is a building rich with history and tradition. It was built in the mid 1920's, and the facility was designated as a World War I memorial to honor the students that had died in battle.
The building's groundbreaking ceremony took place in June of 1923, following many efforts to help raise funds for its construction. But after the ceremony, most progress on the project seemed to halt. Robert J. McCarthy, the Alumni Secretary at the time, decided to organize an "Excavation Week" to jump-start the stalled project. During that week, the basement of the building was to be dug by hand and the foundation prepared so that official construction could begin. Students, staff, and other college supporters were invited to attend and participate in the week-long event, held in November of 1923. The men were organized into competing teams that worked half-day shifts, while the women served coffee and donuts and multiple bands provided music for the occaision.
In June of 1924, construction on the Union officially began. One year later the building opened, although part of its interior remained unfinished due to limited funding. Originally the building had two cafeterias, one co-ed and one strictly for men, as well as meeting rooms and private guest rooms on the second and third floor. In those early days the Union housed some female students because it was close to the original women's dormitory (Morrill Hall) and the building where most of the first female students attended classes, Family and Child Ecology (nicknamed the Home Ec building).
After World War II, the building underwent a major addition and remodeling at a cost of around $3 million. The entire south wing was added, and the existing facilities recieved a facelift.
Today, the MSU Union is home to a variety of resources and facilities, including: a bowling alley, billiards room, computer labs, food court, study lounges, conference rooms, barber shop, U.S. post office, bank, Spartan Spirit apparel store, Biggby coffee, classrooms, UAB and SAF offices, and a travel agency. Each year, over 3,000 events are held there, and it is arguably the most heavily used building on Michigan State's campus.