Buildings Repurposed — Riding Hall

Riding HallThe old riding hall was a granite structure with a wooden trussed roof, measuring 218 x 78 feet. There was a call for a new riding hall due to the increase strength of the Corps of Cadets.  With the new increase in the Corps size, the current 1855 Riding Hall was deemed inadequate.

A  Special Board of Officers  which consisted of the Professors of Drawing, Chemistry, Civil and Military Engineering, Mathematics,  the Instructor of Ordnance and Gunnery and the Adjutant of the Military Academy, as Recorder was tasked “to increase the efficiency of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and to provide for the enlargement of buildings and for other necessary works of improvement…”

The 1902 Board of Officers “recommended that a new riding hall, 580 by 125 feet, be constructed on the site of the present hall, cavalry stables and cavalry barracks.  It will be arranged with a counterpoised partition so that it may be divided into two halls when it is desirable to train two squads at the same time.  As the general stable is to be located at the south end of the post, it will be necessary to provide also temporary accommodation for the horses and rooms for all equipments required in the hall.”

The post saw many changes in 1911: the Reveille gun was moved to Trophy Point; the Old Cadet Chapel was moved, stone by stone, to the cemetery to make room for East Academic building; the organ was installed in the New Cadet chapel; and the Riding Hall was completed.

Built within the walls of the old Riding Hall, Thayer Hall was designed by Gehron and Seltzer of New York, and named after Sylvanus Thayer (USMA 1808), Superintendent from 1817-1833.  It was completed in 1958, and originally housed administrative space for the Departments of English, Foreign Languages, Law, Mathematics, Military Art and Engineering, Military Psychology and Leadership, Ordnance and Social Sciences.  It included 98 classrooms, two 200-seat writ rooms, two 200-seat map-problem rooms, an 800-seat auditorium, and a 1,500-seat auditorium, a material testing laboratory, and space on the first and second floors for the Museum which was formerly housed in the Administration Building.  To this day the roof continues to provide parking for nearly 200 vehicles.

Contents contributed by Alicia Mauldin Ware, Archives Curator