What is in a Name? Davies Hall

Davies teaching piano

Juanita Davis teaching piano

Mary Juanita Davies (usually referred to as Juanita Davies) was an immensely talented piano teacher and performer, who taught at CWU from 1927 to 1965.

In fact, the January 17, 1964 Campus Crier student newspaper article on the Faculty Concert that year noted, “Herbert Bird and Juanita Davies, faculty members of the CWSC division of Music, provided a musical program that gave birth to an acoustically perfect sound that had never before been heard on CWSC’s campus.”

Davies was born in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, on July 10, 1895. She graduated at the top of her class from Ripon College in Wisconsin and then attended the Macphail School of Music in Minneapolis as well as summer schools at the Music Academy of the West in California, the University of Washington, and the University of Colorado.

After accepting a position at CWU, to teach piano, she continued to further her education, working toward music degrees from the Chicago Conservatory of Music (earning a BA in 1932) and Northwestern University (earning an MA in 1938).

In addition to teaching piano, music theory, elementary music teaching methods, and song literature for children, Davies helped establish a number of student music organizations including a men’s glee club, a women’s ensemble, and a women’s triple trio.

She was also an accomplished performer, appearing regularly in solo concerts on campus and as an accompanist for faculty and student recitals. For about 15 years, she joined fellow music faculty member, Herbert Bird, who played violin, to perform at annual faculty concerts.

In Samuel Mohler’s “The First 75 Years: A History of Central Washington State College,” Davies tells him, “From childhood, the West had been a land of romance and adventure, brought closer to us in Wisconsin through the summer visits of our Western cousins . . . So, after a few years of teaching in the Middle West the decision to come to teach at the Normal School in Ellensburg was not a difficult one to make.”

Davies also said that one of the things she enjoyed most about teaching at Central was having the opportunity to teach music to children in the elementary school that was once on campus.

In addition to her teaching, Davis was active with the American Association of University Professors, the Washington Music Teachers’ Association, the Washington Education Association, the State Federation of Music Clubs, the Philanthropic Education Organization (P.E.O.), and Delta Kappa Gamma, a national fraternal organization for women educators.

In the summer of 1965, Davies retired and was awarded professor emeritus status. She continued to reside in Ellensburg until her death in February 1984 at the age of 88. She is buried at the Caersalem Cemetery in Springwater, Wisconsin, alongside other family members.

In 1965-66, using the proceeds from a 1962 bond issue, the university erected two new residence halls, one of which was named in Davies’ honor (the other was named to honor another longtime professor, Harold Quigley).

Davies Hall is part of a cluster of six detached complexes that are collectively known as the Bassettis, after Fred Bassetti, a noted Seattle architect who designed them.

All are brick structures built in an architectural style that is a transition between Mid-Century Modern style and Late Modern. Each of the Bassetti buildings has a J-shaped pavilion floor plan and are three stories tall.


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