On my last visit to Purdue to see my son, he showed me around the Purdue Memorial Union. What a stunning building!

Purdue Memorial Union

Chicago architects Irving and Allen Pond designed the building, which was completed in 1929. Later, a hotel and a bowling alley were added to the structure. The building hosts several offices serving students plus a number of restaurants and gathering spaces.

Purdue Memorial Union

But I was just overcome by how lovely the building is, and how much care the University clearly has taken in keeping it in good condition. I admit to some jealousy — I wished the college I attended had a facility this lovely with this much to offer.

Purdue Memorial Union

I had a film camera with me, my Pentax KM with the 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax lens attached and Kodak T-Max 400 inside. That gave me shallow depth of field for most inside photos, but you can still get a good feel for the space in these photos.

Purdue Memorial Union

Below is one of the ballrooms. I braced myself against a wall for a long-exposure shot and managed to avoid camera shake.


One of my son’s friends is prominent in the ham radio club, which is headquartered in one of the PMU’s towers. Here’s some of their gear.

Ham radio club

My son also took me to an upper room, tucked away, that has a stage and this piano in it.

In the upper room

One of my son’s hobbies is to learn to play as many instruments as he can. He took a piano class last semester and wowed me with his prowess. He’s got a knack for music. He had his Pentax K1000 along, shooting T-Max 400 too.

Damion at the piano

He played me one whole song on this well-used old piano.

Damion at the piano

The stage is on the opposite wall, and because of the light streaming through it I got this moody shot.

In the upper room *EXPLORED*

What a lovely facility. Purdue students are so fortunate to have it.


14 responses to “Touring the Purdue Memorial Union”

  1. richardhunter001 Avatar

    Some nice photos Jim, the black and white shows the building off well.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! Good old T-Max.

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Love the shots of your son with the Pentax. Treasure those Jim!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Aren’t those fun? My brother gave me that K1000 for Christmas probably 10 years ago. I sent it off to Eric Hendrickson earlier this year and passed it on to Damion.

  3. mike connealy Avatar

    You got a good performance from that normal lens. I’ve gotten in the habit of using a wide-angle for interior shots, but your nice essay shows that 55mm can clearly get the job done.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The weather at Purdue can be very different from Zionsville, which is under an hour away. It’s as if the Lafayette region is in its own little weather pocket. I assumed we’d have a good day for outside work and a 55mm lens, but when I got there it was windy and spitting rain. So inside we went! I just had to back up more to get everything into the frame. Fortunately, the PMU is large and gives plenty of space to step back.

  4. Nancy Stewart Avatar
    Nancy Stewart

    What a beautiful old building !! Just think of all the students that have passed through it’s halls and rooms.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thousands and thousands of students! It’s staggering to think about it.

  5. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Jim, I am a plumber by trade, and have worked in the PMU hotel, Stewart center, and Cary Quad. You are right, lovely old buildings, and they do a lot of maintenance on them.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s awesome. The care really shows.

  6. jayakapoor Avatar

    Love the shots. They are mesmirizing!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  7. susanJOY Hosken Avatar
    susanJOY Hosken

    Jim, I have a Pentax K1000 that I bought in Hong Kong after I had been In China in the late 70s as one of the first Westerners to go in as a tourist under strict supervision. Almost all the Chinese wore blue cotton suits. Such and experience. I can’t travel far now and am so grateful for the journeys my K1000 has shared xoxo susanJOY

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh wow, you got to go to China back then! I remember how closed it was, and how remarkable it was when it started to open up.

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