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Concordia was founded to prepare high school boys for a career as ministers. Beginning in 1907, a single frame building provided space for classrooms, a commissary, and living space. In 1938 Concordia College (the official name, even though it was only a high school at the time) petitioned the sponsoring church body (The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod) for funds to build a new dormitory; the request was granted but not funded. Finally, in 1946 the school received the funding necessary to build a new dormitory, Centennial Hall. The name was given because 1947 was the centennial of the founding of the LCMS. A heated discussion ensued over the design: should the building have a long central hallway with rooms on each side, or should the rooms follow a unit-type or "house plan" construction with rooms grouped in clusters? At the insistence of Concordia's Board, the final design included 3 unconnected clusters of twenty-four suites (bedroom and study room) on two levels; each suite accommodated 4 students. The unit-type dormitory was touted as representing "the Jeffersonian idea as opposed to the democratic American developments in mass education. This has serious implications for our ministerial training."
The building not only provided modern living arrangements when first constructed, but also proved to be flexible enough that in recent years the building design permitted housing women in some clusters, men in others.
Concrete walls proved too formidable to allow for renovation. As the campus population grew, new residence halls were constructed and Centennial was converted to use as office space for faculty, departmental administrators, and support staff. Individual departments occupy an entire suite, providing efficiency and a sense of unity within departments.
Nauss, A. H. "Concordia Academy, Portland Oregon." Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly 25-27.
Weber, E. P. "History of Concordia, Portland: 1905-1995." Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly 71 (1988): 1-19.