Coffman Memorial Union, University of Minnesota, East Bank Campus, 300 Washington Avenue SE, Minneapolis, MN

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Coffman Memorial Union

Coffman Memorial Union ca. 1940
Address: 300 Washington Avenue SE
Neighborhood/s: University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, East Bank, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1940
Additions: In the 1970s the exterior was renovated. In 1999-2003 the exterior of the building was restored, and the interior was renovated to remove asbestos and to update the facilities.
Major Alterations: Some/mostly intact
Historic Function: College/university
Current Function: College/university
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Part of the Site: University of Minnesota, East Bank Campus

University, East Bank Minneapolis Hennepin County

Coffman Memorial Union, University of Minnesota, East Bank Campus, 300 Washington Avenue SE, Minneapolis, MN
(44.9735821° N, 93.2350697° WLatitude: 44°58′24.896″N
Longitude: 93°14′6.251″W

Coffman Memorial Union, built in the late 1930s, was intended to be the student union for the University of Minnesota. The building was named after the President of the University, Lotus Delta Coffman, who served from 1920 until his death in 1938. Coffman Memorial Union opened in 1940.

Over the intervening years a number of renovations to both the interior and exterior of the building have occurred. The most recent renovation closed the building from 1999 to 2003 in order to make safety improvements by removing asbestos from the building and expanding the usable space in the basement. The exterior was also restored during this period, reversing controversial alterations done in the 1970s. Beyond this, a notable effort and focus has been made to further complete architect Cass Gilbert's envisioned campus orientation to the river on Coffman Memorial Union's southwest side.



The 1960s-1970s

During the 1960s and 1970s, Coffman Memorial Union was a center for student demonstrations.

In 1968, civil rights was a growing issue on campus. On April 5, 1968 after the April 4 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a crowd of nearly 500 young people and students attended a memorial outside of Coffman and then marched across the Washington Avenue bridge to Minneapolis City Hall. The march blocked two lanes of traffic on the bridge, and the crowd had moments of silence and five kneel-ins along the route at various intersections to commemorate the death of the civil rights leader.

As a result of King's assassination, University students founded the Afro-American Action Committee. On April 11, 1968 the group held a rally outside of Coffman Memorial Union to present seven black demands to the University, including:

  • at least 200 full scholarships for black Minnesota high school students
  • consideration of a proposal to eliminate tuition for underprivileged black high school students
  • establishment of college guidance counseling and recruitment agencies aimed at the needs of black students
  • a review of the Athletic Department's policies toward black athletes
  • consideration of the possibility of using Martin Luther King's name for the O. Meredith Wilson Library on the West Bank campus
  • representation of black students at all major University policy-determining groups
  • an educational curriculum at the University to reflect the contributions of African Americans to American culture

University of Minnesota President Malcolm Moos set up a task force to review these demands. However, on January 15, 1969, when they felt many of their demands hadn't been met by the school, the Afro-American Action Committee staged an occupation of the administration building, Morrill Hall.

On April 26, 1968, another student rally of an estimated 1,500 people was held outside of Coffman Memorial Union at Northrop Plaza to fight against the Vietnam War, racial injustice and the draft.


65}px This place is part of the
1968 tour of the Twin Cities

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  3. Coffman Memorial Union Website
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