Laws Hall (University of Missouri)

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File:Laws Hall 2013.JPG
Laws Hall as it appears from the Maryland Avenue parking garage.

Laws Hall is a residence hall at the University of Missouri. Located at the corner of Tiger Avenue (formerly Maryland Avenue) and Kentucky Boulevard, Laws comprises a gross area of 72,871 square feet (6,769.9 m2) over 9 floors and basement area. The street address is 1005 Tiger Ave. 65201. The structure was constructed in 1957 as a women's residence hall.

Building history

Prior to the construction of Laws Hall, the area of campus was known as Fairway Village. Beginning in 1946 as men returned from the war effort, Fairway Village was a field of trailers that were home to the waves of men and their families returning to begin or complete their college education. As the need for the trailer village areas eventually declined in the 1950s, the area was left prime for development of traditional university residence structures, and Laws was built along with Lathrop and Jones Halls.

Over the summer of 2003, several renovation projects took place to extend the life of the building. All windows in the building were replaced, exterior masonry was extensively cleaned and repaired, upgrades were made to the community bathrooms, the electrical system was upgraded, and individually controlled air conditioning units were installed in each room. Although demolition of the building was originally scheduled for fall 2012 as part of the university's plan to create all new living spaces through renovation and new construction, the current plan is for Laws Hall to close for renovation in summer 2017 and reopen in fall 2018 as the final component of the current Department of Residential Life Master Plan.

Origin of building name

Laws Hall was named for Samuel Spahr Laws. Laws was President of the University of Missouri from 1876 to 1889. Laws is regarded as one of the more interesting figures in MU history. His active interest in the sciences lead to the establishment of a school of engineering and the building of Laws Observatory, the first observatory west of the Mississippi River, in 1877. Laws established the observatory and the telescope within it with his personal funds, and he also acquired the Thomas Jefferson headstone while in office. As president of the university, the autocratic Laws alienated students, faculty and the state legislature. He attempted to regulate all aspects of student life, and opposed admitting women to the university. Several faculty members resigned. In spite of his generous fundraising for an observatory, students hated Laws. They petitioned to have him fired, especially when he would chase students back to campus on days when students would traditionally cut class. Laws resigned from his position with the university in 1889 amid a scandal that erupted when he purchased the carcass of a circus elephant named Emperor for $1,685 after the legislature had specifically refused to pay for it.

Current use

Laws Hall is currently a co-ed residence hall, which houses mostly first-year students in specified communities related to areas of study. The first floor consists of front desk and office area, lounge and study space, and the residence hall director's office and living quarters. The second and third floors, as well as the fourth and fifth floors, are home to the World of Business Learning Communities. The sixth and seventh floors are home to students involved in military ROTC programs. The eighth and ninth floors are quiet floors. Laws Hall traditionally has a high percentage of male students involved in MU Greek Life than other residence halls, because it was the only residence hall in the Greek Town area of campus that open to male students between the closure of the Blair complex in 2004 and the opening of the (all co-ed) Southwest Campus complex in 2006. Laws, along with Lathrop Hall, Jones Hall and the Southwest Campus group all have higher percentages of female students involved in Greek Life than other residence halls on campus.

Notable events

  • On Friday, October 20, 2006, an explosion occurred in a bathroom stall. The explosion resulted in more than $1,000 in damages.
  • On Sunday morning, February 26, 2006, freshman business major Kyle Masterson died after falling from the eighth floor east balcony of the residence hall. The incident was ruled as an apparent suicide, and a note was found in Masterson’s room to support the ruling.[1][2]
  • In April 1998, Ivan Sychov was found dead in his room, room 300, on the third floor of Laws Hall.[3] Sychov was a 20-year-old business major and native of Omsk, Russia. The cause of death was ruled as an accidental self-inflected hanging (auto-erotic asphyxiation in this case).[4]
  • In January 1992, freshman Colin Prock fell five floors down the elevator shaft to his death when he jumped from an elevator that was stalled between the third and fourth floors of the residence hall. The elevator had stalled after 15 students packed into it.[5]
  • In January 1982, an escaped prisoner was found hiding out in the residence hall. Barry Lauderdale had been sentenced in Boonville to two years in the state penitentiary, but he escaped through a fourth floor window of University Hospital where he had been brought for an examination. University police apprehended the prisoner and escorted him out of the building in leg irons.[6]

Notable former residents

  • Beth Low (BA 1999), Missouri State House of Representatives (D-Kansas City; 2004–present)[7]


  1. [1]"Man is found outside dorm, declared dead", Columbia Missourian, February 2006
  2. [2]"MU student death an ‘apparent suicide’", Columbia Missourian, February 2006
  3. [3]"MU student found dead in Laws Hall" The Maneater, April 1998,
  4. The Maneater - "Students death ruled accidental"
  5. "Student at Mizzou Killed in Elevator". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. January 26, 1992, p7B
  6. "Prisoner escapee found in women's dorm". Columbia Missourian. January 31, 1982.
  7. UM Legislative Update Newsletter, January 2006

Coordinates: 38°56′20″N 92°19′52″W / 38.93878°N 92.33098°W / 38.93878; -92.33098