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        The STUDENT UNION BUILDING was erected in 1959 was the first of its kind on campus to be devoted entirely to student activities. Previous student activities had been held in the gymnasium of the MAIN or ACADEMIC BUILDING from 1912 to 1921 in the gymnasium of the MEN'S INDUSTRIAL BUILDING 1921-1932; and on the first floor of the RECREATION HALL from 1933 to 1959. 

        The modern three-story, air-conditioned brick and glass structure contained administrative offices of student personnel organizations, lounges, meeting rooms, a game room, a grill and fountain, the University bookstore and post office. An addition to the Union was completed August 1968 by McKissack and McKissack Architecture Firm at a cost of $80,250. The building was located on the south campus west of the MARIE BROOKS STRANGE MUSIC HALL and east of the ALGER V. BOSWELL PHYSICS AND MATH BUILDING. On April 23, 1982, Office of Student Affairs held a Dedicatory Ceremony and proclaimed the STUDENT UNION BUILDING, the JOSEPH A. PAYNE STUDENT UNION BUILDING. The ceremony was held in the GENTRY COMPLEX at 2:00 p.m. The building was demolished in 1993.

1916 TO 1976

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        Dr. Joseph A. Payne came to Tennessee State University in 1958 as the Dean of Students and served in that capacity until 1972, when he was made Vice-President for Student Affairs. In 1975, he became professor of education and devoted himself to full-time research and students. Dr. Payne a warm, good and kind man touched many lives in his long and distinguished career. Against the backdrop of segregation and racism in this country, he inspired black youth to achievement by being and by providing a model of excellence and scholarship. Dr. Payne was a member of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.