“Just look around and you can tell you’re wrong…”

Roop Hall (Photo: James Madison University)Don’t you just love urban legends? People believe so many things, and some things are just downright preposterous. At JMU, there’s an urban legend about the origins of Roop Hall (seen at left), home of the teacher education program on campus. The story goes that the building we see in front of us today was actually designed for Virginia Tech, but due to an error somewhere, JMU got a Virginia Tech building, and Virginia Tech got a JMU building. First of all, can you imagine what would be going on if the wrong buildings were built? Lawsuits on both sides, for sure, and the contractor would probably end up going out of business, after taking such a blow monetarily and to its reputation. Besides that, no Virginia Tech building to my knowledge has ever been named as being the one that was supposed to be at JMU. Additionally, let’s put it into context for a moment and debunk the myth. Roop Hall was built around 1980. During that period, most of JMU’s construction was going on behind the quad. The Village had recently gone up, and the Convocation Center was in the works. Additionally, in the three buildings built near the quad during this period, none of them were built out of bluestone, with real bluestone being seen as too expensive at that point in time, so they improvised. The results of this change, besides Roop Hall, are Miller Hall (circa 1975), as well as the newer portions of Carrier Library (circa 1982). It’s kind of like saying, “Madison, you ARE the father!” to the university, as I reassure everyone that yes, Roop Hall is a JMU building through and through, designed and built for JMU, and to take into consideration that the building is a product of the time period in which it was built.

Date posted: September 15, 2002