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University Center

History of the University Center

The University Center is comprised of three buildings – The Mary Graydon Center, Butler Pavilion, and the Sports Center.  All three buildings were built at different times throughout the history of the University, with the Mary Graydon Center being the oldest of the three.

Mary Eliza Graydon (d. 1926) was the American University's most generous early benefactor. A devout Methodist, she was inspired by Bishop Hurst's plan for a national Methodist University and contributed funds over a period of fifty years. In honor of her grandfather, she established the Patrick Clendenen Endowment Fund intended to support teaching and to promote the higher education of women, rather than finance building projects. In recognition of Mary Graydon's continued support, the Mary Graydon Center was begun to be built in 1925 by the University and was named in her honor in 1945. The original architect was Col. Peter M. Anderson. The builder was Beauchamps and Associates.  Mary Graydon was once quoted as saying, "I prefer to the money into brains rather than stone and mortar."  The Mary Graydon Center was once a residence hall for women before it was converted to a student center.  The building has undergone several renovations, most recently in 2007 with the first floor undergoing a tremendous facelift to increase space usage and casual lounge seating.

Butler Pavilion was constructed in 1987 and the Sports Center was constructed in 1988-91. Both facilities were created by architect Daniel F. Tulley and Associates and Blake Construction Company as the builder. They both were renovated in 1998.