Eckles Hall stands on Rollins Road, close to the eastern border of the University of Missouri campus. It was a conveniently far-flung location for students in the building a century before: just across the street, the 100 or so cows and bulls in the university herd grazed in the space now occupied by the veterinary school. At that time, Eckles Hall was just called the Dairy Building, home to the first collegiate dairy husbandry department in Missouri.
The Dairy Building was part of a group of MU buildings designed in 1901 by the architectural firm Cope and Stewardson, who were renowned for the Collegiate Gothic style that swept through American colleges at the turn of the century. In April of 1901, the Missouri Legislature created the department and designated $40,000 (a little more than $1 million when adjusted for inflation) to the school for “laboratories for livestock judging, dairy instruction and veterinary science.” C.H. Eckles was appointed department chair, with almost immediate success.
The school gained international notoriety in 1910, when a cow nicknamed “Old Jo” set a number of worldwide dairy production records. Old Jo proved to be a useful recruiting tool, and an addition to the building was added in 1938 to accommodate the department’s growth in students and researchers. Eckles Hall was in close proximity to the dairy barn until 1959, after a fire destroyed a section of the barn and the herd was moved to a new site west of Columbia.
Until 1972, MU-brand dairy products were sold in a small retail shop inside Eckles Hall. The internal production also included three flavors of ice cream for sale. The shop was a forerunner to Buck’s Ice Cream Place and its signature Tiger Stripe flavor.
Ice cream research began in the 1920s and grew through the work of professor Wendell Arbuckle, who would later go on to consult for Baskin Robbins. After fiscal issues caused the dairy plant to shut down in 1972, it took the fundraising and endowment efforts of Arbuckle to restart ice-cream research in 1989. New equipment was donated, and the current location of Buck’s Ice Cream opened the same year.
The last major development of Eckles Hall came in 2000, with the addition of the William C. Stringer Wing on the east side of the building, which inched the building closer to Old Jo’s former stomping ground.