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First called the Refectory Building, Kearny Hall originally housed the student union on its first floor and the main dining hall and kitchen on the second floor. Today, Kearny still functions as the student union and has offices and meeting spaces for the Office of Student Affairs. The main dining hall, kitchen, and servery are on the second floor.
Kearny Hall was one of the original five buildings constructed when the new, seventy acre campus of Dillard University opened in the Fall of 1934. Dillard was created in 1930 when two former schools, Straight University and New Orleans University, merged. Moise H. Goldstein, Sr., a prominent New Orleans architect, designed the symmetrical, Beaux Arts inspired campus, along with all subsequent buildings until his retirement in 1961.
Two church denominations and several white philanthropic organizations combined forces to build "an important Negro university" within the largest city of the deep South. Dillard's educational impact has been greatest in the state of Louisiana, producing thousands of graduates who became public school teachers, scientists, nurses, doctors, musicians, and artists. Dillard continues today as a prestigious liberal arts university in Louisiana, drawing students from all over the country and abroad to its "great green spaces" and "gleaming white buildings."
Kearny was expanded in 1962 and 1995 and underwent a major renovation in 1999. The building has been modernized, is ADA accessible, and is actively used 24/7.