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JMU Special Collections

Built in 1927, Keezell Hall was first named Reed Hall, in honor of Dr. Walter Reed, an American pathologist and bacteriologist who made groundbreaking medical discoveries in the early twentieth century. He is known to have linked the cause for Yellow fever with mosquito bites and studied disease in military camps. The campus infirmary took on the dedication of Reed’s name, and the building was renamed after Virginia State Senator George B. Keezell. 

               Dingledine, Raymond. Madison College: The First Fifty Years. 1958

Senator George B. Keezell was a contributing member of the establishment of the State Normal and Industrial School for Women by persuading the Virginia General Assembly to bring the new school right in the city of Harrisonburg, and negotiated the purchasing of the Newman farm. Keezell also advocated for the education of women and was an active chairman on committees for the planning of the school. In 1958, Madison College named Keezell “father of the institution” in a tribute to him during an anniversary celebration of the school. The institution values his governing role as a member of the board of trustees that founded it, as the Quad would not be the same symbolic educational space on the old Newman Farm without his accomplishments.

Pre 1985. JMU Special Collections.

2019. Photo by Brooke Gianni

The building was renamed after Senator Keezell to commemorate his significant legacy and his dedication to the establishment of the school. As a crucial founding member, his legacy remains. Keezell Hall provided the rapidly expanding college with additional classrooms to fit the masses of students that were seeking to study at Madison College. The hall also previously had a gymnasium and a swimming pool for campus use, with President Duke as its first swimmer. The building went under renovation in 1987, and the gymnasium and swimming pool were relocated to bigger, more accommodating spaces, and replaced with additional classrooms and office spaces for administrative staff. Over the years, Keezell Hall held an elementary school training program, and, additionally, it was the home of the English department and foreign language department.  Today, Keezell Hall has numerous classrooms and auditoriums open for Student Organizations and Departments to use, as well as a Language Resource Center.

JMU Special Collections