Who was Martin Hall named for?
Since it opened in 1954, thousands of Bears have called Baylor’s venerable Martin Hall home for some part of their student experience, and every one of them daily passed by a painting of the building’s namesake, D.K. “Dock” Martin. While they may have known his name, few knew his impact — but unknowingly, they very likely drove on his legacy to get to campus.
Martin graduated from Baylor in 1900, then began a career as an insurance salesman and real estate agent. Others took note of his success in those fields, and by the 1920s, public service came calling in the form of an invitation from Texas Governor (and fellow Baylor alum) Pat Neff, AB 1894. Neff — at that point, still a few years away from becoming Baylor’s eighth president — tabbed Martin to chair the Texas Highway Commission, which we know today as TxDOT. Martin spent 11 years over a 16-year span heading the commission, and his impact helped modernize Texas transportation.
When Martin joined the highway commission, the entire state of Texas could claim only 1,000 miles of paved highways. When he finally retired from the commission for good in 1937, that number had grown to 15,000 miles. He became so well-known that he was often considered a strong candidate to run for governor.
But instead of leading the state, Martin chose instead to serve at Baylor. He spent three decades as a trustee, fundraiser and benefactor at Baylor. His prowess leading numerous fundraising campaigns helped take many now-iconic campus buildings from dream to reality, including Armstrong Browning Library, Tidwell Bible Building, Marrs McLean Science Building, and Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium. For his tireless efforts, Martin Hall was named in his honor in 1956. He died nine years later at the age of 87, and his burial services were co-officiated by Baylor President Abner McCall.
Exactly 60 years after the building was given its name, Martin Hall is being updated for a new generation of Bears. Like North and South Russell and Penland before it, Martin is closed for the coming year (2016-17) for a massive renovation that will update furniture and fixtures, create new study and social spaces, add apartments for faculty-in-residence and a resident chaplain, and upgrade the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Martin is the fourth of Baylor’s traditional residence halls to undergo such efforts; future years will see similar updates to Alexander, Allen-Dawson, Collins and Memorial.
Sic ’em, D.K. “Dock” Martin!
Other residence hall name histories:
* Allen (Gladys Allen)
* Brooks (Samuel Palmer Brooks)
* Collins (Ruth Collins)
* Dawson (Willie Turner Dawson)
* Earle (Dr. Hallie Earle)
* Kokernot (H.L. Kokernot)
* Penland (George Harvey Penland)
* Russell (Willard & Stella Russell)
* Teal (Gordon Teal)