After more than 60 years in service to agriculture, Johnson Hall came down.

Last fall, the Pullman campus’s fourth-largest structure was Washington State University’s biggest-ever demolition project. It will be replaced by a new federally funded building to house USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists as well as university researchers. Construction will take about three years.

Black and white photo of three men in front of Johnson Hall at Washington State University
Washington Gov. Albert Rosellini (left) was present for the dedication of Johnson Hall in 1961. (Courtesy WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections)

Opened in 1960, Johnson saw many advances in agriculture such as useful new crop varieties. Increasingly costly to maintain, the building had reached the end of its useful life.

“Research has changed a lot since Johnson Hall was built,” says Tim Murray (’80 MS, ’83 PhD Plant Path.), chair of the Department of Plant Pathology. “At that time, agricultural research was field- and greenhouse-based. Electricity and cooling worked for the time but aren’t really adequate to support modern research.”

But for all its faults, Johnson Hall felt like home for many.

“It was filled with so many people that it made collaboration easy,” says Rich Koenig, chair of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. “One could walk down a hall and bounce ideas off someone from a completely different department and discipline. Often, these conversations led to new ways of looking at things. This is critical for students and faculty.”

Johnson Hall housed wheat breeders Bob Allan and Clarence Peterson, mycologist Jack Rogers, barley scientists Steve Ullrich and Andy Kleinhofs, and turfgrass professor Bill Johnston and his wife, Ellen Johnston, curatorial assistant of WSU’s mycological herbarium. Wheat breeder Orville Vogel, who made possible the “Green Revolution” in agriculture, worked here during the 1960s and ’70s.

“We felt like a cohesive unit,” says Murray, who worked out of Johnson Hall from 1978, when he arrived at WSU as a graduate student, until this year. “Our USDA colleagues were there⁠—we saw everybody, and our students saw us.”

A number of alumni, faculty, and staff shared their memories with Washington State Magazine.