In 1973, Mrs. Ruth Kellett donated her four-story, Georgian-style home to the Board of Regents of Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU) “as a part of the institution’s Residence Center.” Her donation was a memorial to her late husband, Howard Kellett. The Kelletts had lived in the home since 1929.
M. B. Clarke, the builder and first-owner of the home, was vice president of the first SMSU Board of Regents.
The Kellett residence was the first permanent home for the West Plains campus. Until this time, the Residence Center had used facilities at the West Plains High School. The new facility allowed the campus to offer classes during the day. No longer were classes limited to the late afternoon and evening hours.
A dedication ceremony was held on July 5, 1974.
In 1977, the Missouri General Assembly appropriated funding which, along with private donations, made a 4,200-square-foot addition to Kellett Hall possible. The addition was completed in 1980.
SMSU-West Plains was authorized $150,000 from the Fourth State Building Fund in 1995 and $268,210 from State Capital Appropriations in 1996 for renovations and to add an elevator to meet ADA requirements. During the renovation process, Kellett Hall sustained heavy damage by a fire in February 1996. The roof and third floor of Kellett Hall were extensively damaged by the fire, with water and smoke damage throughout the rest of the brick and stone three-story building. Restoration of the building, along with the renovation project, was completed in March 1997.
In 2005, the university’s name was changed from SMSU-West Plains to Missouri State University-West Plains.
In June 2014, a plaque honoring former Missouri State Rep. Granvil Vaughan and other key community members for founding Missouri State University-West Plains was as part of a newly constructed monument in front of Kellett Hall. The plaque originally was unveiled in 2008 and remained at Kellett Hall until officials found an appropriate, prominent location on campus for its display. That location was made possible with donations to the university from family and friends in memory of longtime local businessman Sam Grisham following his death in 2012. Family members requested the funds be used for “something special” at Kellett Hall, which was once home to Grisham’s grandparents. In addition to the founders plaque, the monument includes a plaque honoring Grisham which reads “In memory of Samuel Howard Grisham in recognition of happy childhood memories spent at the home of his grandparents, Ruth and Howard Kellett.”
Did you know?
- During the renovation process, Kellett Hall sustained heavy damage by a fire in February 1996.
- M.B. Clarke, the builder and first owner of the home, was also vice-president of the first SMSU Board of Regents.
Funding for the Schoolcraft Journey project on Unlock the Ozarks has been provided by the Missouri Humanities Council.