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Memories of Johnson Hall

Johnson Hall at Washington State University Pullman is scheduled to be torn down in Spring 2022, and a new agricultural research and USDA building will be constructed in its place.

We’re collecting memories before the old building is gone. If you spent time in Johnson Hall as a researcher, student, or other reason, please let us know as we preserve the history of Johnson Hall.

Thank you.

Johnson Hall memories


Memories of Johnson Hall

“Many of my classes were held in Johnson Hall as I studied forestry and wildland recreation. I have one very special memory. I posted an ad on a Johnson Hall bulletin board looking to borrow an axe for Dr. Dingle’s silviculture field class. A fellow classmate named John Durkee wrote down my phone number. He didn’t have an axe to loan, but he called and asked me out! We married three years later and were together until his passing in 2016.”

⁠— Karen Durkee ’75


“Woody Kalin was my advisor in ornamental horticulture. I will never forget ‘Plant ID.’ Walking all over Pullman in the dead of winter. Whenever we go back for football games, I have to go find the display case with the twigs and plants to identify! Johnson Hall will be missed.”

⁠— Martha Johnson ’83


“In the basement at the east end of Johnson Hall was a small fruit and vegetable processing area. As a food science major, I took a class that used that area to teach about processing equipment. I recall one lab where we developed a new potato product. It tasted good but the texture was kind of gooey. We named the new product ‘Tater Snots.’”

⁠— Russ Salvadalena ’77, retired staff


“I spent many hours in Johnson Hall as a hort major in 2000-2003. I loved all the indoor plants that were slowly taking over the library, and I loved when the beautiful serviceberry tree would bloom right outside the library doors!”

⁠— Jody Strom ’03


“I spent almost every day of my college career in some room in Johnson Hall. The students dubbed Johnson 22 ‘The Dungeon,’ and that is where I had a 7 a.m. landscape ecology class with Dr. Mark Swanson. It is one of my favorite college memories. We also used this same room for all of Dr. Zamora’s plant identification classes. I feel lucky to have spent such time in ‘The Dungeon.’”

⁠— Brad Allen ’10


“I worked as a computer consultant in Johnson Hall in 1977-1979, when the Computing Center was housed there. It was a state data processing center at the time. It was also the place to turn in your punch cards (as I used while getting my MBA during those years), and get your reams of fan-folded, green-bar, printed output from the massive printers.”

⁠— Vernene Trautman Scheurer ’79 MBA, retired staff


I was a PhD student at Department of Crop Science. I spent 3 years over there. My office room was 302B Johnson Hall. I will miss the J. Hall and sweet memories.

— MD Nurul Amin

Great crop science classes and the office of the best Agricultural Adviser in history, Jim Durfey!

— Jake Devaney

I majored in Natural Resource Management and graduated in 1994. I spent a lot of my time in Johnson Hall studying, using the computer lab, meeting with natural resources faculty (Jack Nelson was my favorite professor), and working in the Natural Resources Habitat Lab for Bruce Davitt. I have many fond memories of the building, the staff, the faculty, and of course the friends I made and still have to this day!

— Amber Gray

I worked in Johnson Hall on the WSU Pullman campus in Room 209 from 1988 until 2010, in the USDA-ARS Wheat Genetics, Quality, Physiology and Disease Research Unit. It was an old building even then. As with most research on a university campus, great work was accomplished in tight spaces. I enjoyed working with and getting to know many US and international students, scientists and faculty. Great minds worked in the labs of Johnson Hall doing amazing research. As new buildings when up around Johnson Hall, cracks were formed in the walls from the pounding of new building footings. When the weather was stormy or hot, the long halls were perfect for walking during breaks. Dr. Orville Vogel, USDA-ARS wheat breeder, walked these same halls. Dr. Vogel’s research combined with Dr. Norman Borlaug’s helped to make possible the “Green Revolution” in world food production. Those who worked with Dr. Vogel and those who followed were the best of the best and included Dr. Bob Allan, Dr. Pete (C.J.) Peterson, Dr. Kay Walker-Simmons, Dr. Kim Garland-Campbell to name a few. Friendships, marriages, baby showers, receptions, the Lentil Cook-off, deep-fried bugs from the Entomology Dept. Wonderful memories, great people.

— Patsy Wood, staff

I worked in the Johnson Hall Graduate Center for three years as an undergrad working towards an AFS degree. I also had a lot of classes in the 2nd and 3rd floor and spent a lot of time in the student lounge on the 2nd floor.

— Leticia Trejo

I was an AMDT student from 2017 – 2020. Every semester I had multiple classes in Johnson Hall! I loved the feel of the small classrooms. The Erie hallway going to the annex was a daily walk for me. I enjoyed learning about fashion and planning our Mom’s weekend Fashion Shows in Johnson Hall. Thank you for the Great Memories. And I look forward to see the new Building soon!

— RobbiAnn Buendia

As a new grad student unfamiliar with campus, I came for the first time trying to find my department and office with my 2 little kids in a stroller. I got lost and just know I was looking for Johnson. I stopped and asked someone if they could point me in the right direction and they asked if I was looking for Johnson Tower or Johnson Hall. I had no idea and made the trek to Johnson Hall before realizing that I did indeed need Johnson Tower. A long and memorable walk with 2 toddlers in a stroller as one of my first WSU campus memories.

— Cortney Dalton

Took Air Force ROTC classes there. Spent lots of time in the parking lot marching around in circles. Also took a computer graphics class in 1971 when Johnson Hall had THE only computer. Lots of time was spent there at a keyboard cresting stacks of key-punch cards then handing them to the guy behind the glass window. Return a week later, fix all the error and warning messages on the printout, hand the corrected stack of cards to the guy behind the glass, and return a week later to get the reason for all this effort… a three-dimensional line drawing of a cube. Something I could have done on a drawing board in two minutes.

— Andrew Muntz

Where I became an agriculture teacher! Forever a special place.

— Madeleine Tanis

My father was an Ag major in the early 1980s. My family lived in Fairways so as a five year old future Coug I would wait for my dad to come back from classes at the top of the hill where Ferdinands is now. When he would appear by Johnson Hall my brothers and I would run down the hill past where Ferdinands is now to meet him and finish the walk the together. Now, everytime I go to Ferdinands I go to the top of the hill and look down where we used to live. Fairways was run down but we have good memories from there. Johnson Hall reminds me of my dad every time I see it and the memories I have from those times I will always cherish. “Tis the song of memories, that we sing today”

— Amanda Grider Bullock

In the early 1970’s, Johnson hall hosted the data center. We felt honored to have an IBM 360 with two megabytes of memory. Many of us submitted decks of punched cards, then hung out together waiting for programs to run and get the print out.

— Chris Carlson

My senior year, my last classes in Friday’s were in Johnson, Econ for Business. It was the meeting point for my group of friends to head to Dupus Boomers for an end of the week drink (yay for the 44 tap out!) Walking to and from Johnson on Friday afternoons were the closing of not only my week but the closing of my time at WSU.

— Abigail Lentz

Johnson hall is where the IBM 360 computers were, my Computer Science 201 and several Electrical Engineering classes required Fortrain programming. Many long nights and weekends spend in Johnson hall typing computer punchcards and waiting for programs to process. My WSU experience was just a wonderful place to go to school.

— Mike Renner

I spent much of my undergrad years in Johnson Annex as the Computer Science Department was located there then. Many late nights trying to get programs working before they were due. Several classes were there but some were also in Clark Hall. I became a staff member in the Social Research Center while still an undergrad. After graduating in 1975, I watched as the Computer Science department grew out of that building and as the computer technology grew and prepared to move to the Information Technology Building just after I left for Boeing Computer Services in 1978.

— James Ruddy

My husband and I met in Forest Ecology class here 8 years ago!

— Shay Way

As a freshman in AgEd, Johnson Hall is where I had my first AgEd class (Fall 2018) and is also where I had my last AgEd class (Fall 2021) before going to student teach at Pullman High School. I spent countless hours on the 2nd floor both in the class and hanging out studying in the student resource room. I’m so thankful to have gotten to finish my AgEd education there before it being torn down and getting to finish out that experience. It was bittersweet having my first and last AgEd class in the same building, same room, and with the same people.

— Nicole Snyder

I spent a fair amount of time in Johnson Hall Annex (the Computer Center) starting in 1969 as a Senior at Pullman HS and then as an undergrad student in electrical engineering. Punched an insane number of cards over the next 6 years as well as spending time on the teletype machines. There was an IBM System 360 Model 67 that we all ran jobs on. I remember a set of trivia cards at WESCON in 1983 that had an incorrect answer. It asked, “What was the IBM System 360 Model 67?” Their answer was, “A system that never saw the light of day.” My boss at the time and I laughed at that one. He had used one at Stanford and I used the one at WSU. It actually was the first time share version of the System 360.

I also had some classes in the auditorium in the Annex. AFROTC my Freshman and Sophomore years at WSU. I remember that their offices were in the main building. I remember that the first microwave oven that I ever used was in the hallway connecting the Annex to the main building. Amazing the “important” trivia that one remembers after over 50 years.

— Ghery Pettit

Multiple all nighters were spent in studio for Landscape Architecture. Ordering pizza at 1am. Playing waffle ball in the hallways as our projects were hung on the walls. Professor Struckmeyer and Hendrix and Ryder. The smell of rendering pens smelling up the hallways. Still working on projects at 8am when other students came in for Dirt 101.

— John-Michael Demetre

While attending WSU from 71-75, I worked on the grounds crew and the last 3 years, worked on the lawn and flower bed sprinkler maintenance crew. I was always frustrated at Johnson Hall as the sprinkler control box for the lawn and flower beds was inside the building at the back of a long long concrete hallway accessed off the lobby, so if I was working alone, I had to repair the line or sprinkler, then go all that distance and doorways to turn on that line, then walk back out to see if it was fixed and repeat if necessary. That is a long way of getting to the point of my memory of Johnson Hall. Inside that long concrete hallway, about 4 feet wide, had one wall stacked with hundreds of 5 lb sealed tin containers. The ink printed label said they were crackers. My work partner and I took one out, opened it and ate saltine crackers that were cold war era manufacturing dates still stored at Johnson Hall. I don’t recall the date of manufacturing. A little stale but very edible. I wonder if they are still there almost 50 years later.

— Ross McIvor

In the summer of 1975 I worked in an agronomy lab where we determined nitrate reductase in wheat and barley. I was an incoming freshman and this was my first exposure to the research that went on at WSU. I met many interesting people that summer!

— Debora Davis

As a master of science student from 1977-79, Johnson Hall contained my third floor office. It always smelled like potato chips and apples….and when I returned as a senior faculty member in 2000, the same smell permeated the building and brought back instant memories of graduate school. In 2000, my faculty office and laboratory were on the first floor near the Soil Science Department Office. My host department was the Department of Natural Resource Sciences. Old Johnson Hall has served its purpose well–but it is time for a change!

— James Dobrowolski, faculty

I was a graduate student in Crop and Soil Sciences during 1990-1994 and have many fond memories of sitting in classes and labs, studying for prelim exams, grinding samples in the soil/plant prep room on the ground floor, running samples through various analytical instruments in Bill Pan’s NCREL in room 172, and being in 4 separate office locations in Johnson. My most fond memories are of the faculty, staff and graduate student friends and colleagues I met while in Johnson Hall. Fast forward and some 10 years later and I returned to Johnson Hall as a faculty member and then Department Chair in Crop and Soil Sciences. It was a surreal experience. Many of the same friends and colleagues are still in Johnson. Like the building itself, we have all aged. The people have aged better than the building.

— Rich Koenig, faculty 

I think roughly 75 percent of my classes were in Johnson Hall. Mainly for a variety of plant science classes.. The most memorable moment I have in Johnson was showing up late for my first exam for Crop science 302. The test didn’t go too well and I received the biggest wake-up call of my entire college career

— Alexander Briehl

Our father, Dr. Charles W. Nagel, was a professor at WSU from 1964-1991. His office, classes and research lab was in Johnson Hall. I remembering playing in the dark hallways in the 60’s with my sister while dad worked countless hours after work or on weekend or during the summer. The hallways would echo but we always felt safe; a fun place for our imagination to run. Dad also held Wine tasting classes which was very popular amongst his friends and university staff. So many fond memories of Johnson Hall, the structure may be demolished but the memories will live on forever!

— Patricia Niehl

Lots of memories from my student days of 1962-1967. Still most vivid is a class in Fortran 4 and wrestling with a computer named “aggie”. Learning this new language and attempting to develop a card deck that would satisfy “aggie” was a challenge. Many results returned “aggie no-go” and reams of computer paper with one line on each page…aargh! Also, the USAF ROTC program (Det. 905) from which I received my commission had classes in Johnson Hall. My major was mechanical engineering so getting from Sloan Hall to clear across campus to Johnson was always interesting. Wouldn’t trade any of it. ’67!

— Michael Gould

I was a Scientific Programmer for Forestry and Range Management between 1974 and 1986. One group of memories were the temporary environmental conditions. My office was a converted lab space in the basement – no windows. Just above that lab was another lab which had blueprint copying equipment. One morning we came in and a machine upstairs had sprung a leak which escaped down into my lab. It was leaking concentrated ammonia which is very bad news and burns your nose. We evacuated immediately. Several years late a research project had stored a very large number of elk fecal samples in an old freezer which one of my office mates was slowly going through to evaluate the types of vegetation the elk were eating. When we came back in after Christmas break we were met by a very serious and very foul odor. Our guess is that the freezer died somewhere around Thanksgiving but the freezer retained the cold temperature for several weeks but then decomposition started but hadn’t proceeded very far before the Christmas break started. Over Christmas and New Year it really got going strong. When we got back it was really evident that something was wrong. I don’t remember who first opened up the freezer, but when the lid was opened it became very clear what had happened. We all evacuated again. My final environmental memory was when I was a Research Assistant in the Department of Information Sciences (later changed to Computer Sciences) between 1964-66. At that time the Computer Center was in the Johnson Annex on the south side of the building. The computer was a very big, old machine, an IBM 709 which ran using tubes instead of transistor or chip architecture. It produced a LOT of heat and we had the biggest air conditioning system on campus. It was a bitterly cold day, temperatures around zero all day. Something happened and the air conditioning system failed. The computer obviously shut down immediately but the tubes etc. were still very hot. Here it was around 0 degrees F outside and that one big room was well over 100 degrees F.

— Brian Bremner, staff 

I will be sad to see it go! Sure enjoyed my 2 years in the Soil Chemistry Lab as an undergraduate student working for Jeff Boyle under the direction of Jim Harsh. I enjoyed the people and the work, it was a great work study job, even on the days when I had to work in the basement of Johnson with a 30# rolling pin grinding soil samples!

— Scott Minckler

In 1960, I remember an old house on a hill being torn down followed by the hill and more being removed to make way for Johnson Hall. There was a lot of dirt excavated! Second memory was in 1961 the Army senior ROTC classes were held in the far end of Johnson Hall. My next class after ROTC was on the third floor of Carpenter Hall. Virtually as far across campus as you could get at that time and only 10+ minutes to do a next class dash. Fellow ROTC classmate, Jerry Costello and I hoofed it up and over the hill to enter quietly with the prof’s permission.

— Roger Amundson

My father – Case Calissendorff – ran a lab on the 2nd floor – Soil Sciences. He started at WSU in the early 1960s and earned his BA and MS in Soil Science. I would often stop by the lab to say hello. So I was in and out of Johnson Hall starting in second grade all the way through adulthood when I graduated in 79 and continuing sporadically for a number of years until he retired. It was a great old building. The HVAC system reminded of the sounds of the ocean liner my family sailed when emigrating from the Netherlands around 1963.

— Bernard Calissendorff

I was in Steve Wyatt’s lab, classes and greenhouses from ’87-’91 for my Ph.D. (Plant Pathology/Virology). We studied various aspects of multipartite RNA viruses, including seed transmission thereof. I really miss that work, but am still in virology. My best and worst memories include the ‘grad student’ combined offices (southeast corner, 3rd floor?) where we all worked late and consumed copious quantities of Mountain Dew, just to get through our degrees. Saw the sun come up from there on more occasions than I care to remember. Along with Steve (who loved Dire Straits, T-Birds and was a great mentor), my most memorable personalities included Kerry Druffle (Steve’s tech), Dennis Gross, Tim Murray, Jack Rogers (who enjoyed my bluegrass band), Walt Kaiser, Gaylord Mink (Prosser), Ruben Duran, Xianming Chen, Frank Dugen, Mark Mazzola, Bob Klein and others. On one particularly thorny occasion, I managed to ‘borrow’ a box of much-needed pipette tips from Murray’s lab. My future spouse Cheryl worked as Tim’s tech and felt sorry that I had to go begging for essential research items. Steve just about went through the ceiling! No hard feelings though, eh Tim?

I probably spent more time managing two greenhouses full of virus-infected bean plants than I spent in Johnson Hall, but I remember, as others have shared in this platform, that Johnson Hall was a place to have close contact with students, faculty and staff. I liked the friendliness of the place. There was a broad range of instrumentation and expertise there, often just a flight of stairs away. I am truly grateful for everyone who put up with me and who helped me to develop real affection for the place. I hope the new facility can measure up.

— Michael H. Walter

I remember the state of the art IBM360 computer which was fed by punch cards, using the Fortran language.

— Jeff Black ’79

I was in the Forest Management program from 1977-1982. Johnson Hall was my home! All the memories make me smile…the classrooms, the professors cluttered offices (Dr. Chapman and Dr. Dingle), those most uncomfortable wooden chairs in the lecture hall with Dr. Mosher and…Johnson was where I had my first all-nighter studying with classmates for finals. Good times!

— Lora Iverson Knowlton

In working toward and completing two bachelor of science degrees 1973 to 1979, Johnson Hall became a very familiar ‘home’ for me. From the 400-plus-seat lecture hall to classrooms to labs to the Johnson Hall Library to the grounds themselves, almost every semester for six years I would spend time in the Johnson Hall environ.

I learned the fine points of forestry from the gifted minds of Dr. Richard Dingle, Dr. Milton Mosher, Dr. Darrel Bienz. From other Johnson Hall residents with their horticultural expertise – Dr. Elwood Kalin, Dr. Fenton Larsen and Dr. Kenneth Brooks and from their plant basics, plant propagation and plant materials courses and field labs, we students learned the plant varieties and characteristics of almost every plant around Johnson Hall, in the greenhouses, the WSU campus and beyond.

Dr. C. Gardner Shaw bestowed us with his informative lectures including his lively and sometimes humorous slide shows. His professorial office was a jewel to behold – books and papers crammed in every nook and cranny but yet with a comfortable couch for students to come in, sit down and have a welcome, friendly chat with him. Dr. Carl Johansen in the large lecture hall helped to train us into the secrets of an amazing number of insects and their life cycles. Another long-term, highly respected professor was Dr. Robert Hausenbuiller, who gave us knowledgeable insight into the hidden world of soils. His slide shows were informative and amazing but in the dark, full wakefulness was a struggle. Another Johnson Hall legend – Dr. Henry Smith, made it his task to provide us with understanding all of the facets of soils in our region through a challenging soil morphology course.

Johnson Hall alumni Dr. Kurt Schekel helped us students gain expertise in the fields of greenhouse and nursery management for prospective professions, and Dr. Kenneth Struckmeyer placed us into the world of landscape design. Also under the Horticulture Department’s home in Johnson Hall, Dr. William Ackley took on the tough task of educating us students into the many connected variables of pest management.

Aside from the powerhouse of professors thus named and others in Johnson Hall, there were the memorable times spent at the Johnson Hall Computer Facility waiting for the roomful of computers to “spit out” the mathematical punch cards necessary for the various courses taken in Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, and Soils. And there were all the other courses around campus bringing a horde of students to the same facility.

Deep in the basement was another unforgettable area – rooms with processors for various food studies including the making of the famous ‘Johnson Hall’ French fries and apple cider from the nearby horticultural orchard. Yes, the Johnson Hall Library was quite small and with its minimal student space of tables and chairs – at full student capacity it could get very warm. The landscape plants around Johnson Hall became almost old friends by the time courses were taken to study them and the zillion times walking around and past them.

A unique piece of Johnson Hall memory is student friendships gained from interaction in class to class, lab to lab contacts over the years.

Because of the many, many experiences tied to Johnson Hall, this building and its existence on the WSU campus will always be extra special, never forgotten.

— Kerry Retzel ’79 Hort., Ag.