The Story of Draper Hall at George Washington University

So it turns out that my uncle, Courtney Rogers Draper, had a building named after him for as long as it existed.

Courtney Rogers Draper 150 (2)

The Story of Draper Hall

In the GWU Mail Call, 2 July 1946
Volume 1, No. 3

If you will walk over about a block to 22nd and G streets, you wil notice a two-story barracks-like building that looks uncomfortably like an amputated part of an army camp.

Your first impression will be corrected swiftly, however, when you walk into the spacious inviting lobby, and watch the easy-going, friendly dormitory life that opens out upon it.

No, the Army flavor is all gone. It’s civilian life, and civilian life at its best.

Perhaps that is why it is called Draper Hall. You see, Courtney Rogers Draper typified in his life, as in his death, the finest in American life.

He was the son of a Salt Lake City lawyer, with three sisters, one employed in the office of Gen. Elbert D. Thomas of Utah, here in Washington, and a brother, attending the University of Utah. This was the institution Courtney attended before he came to Washington, and to GWU.

In Washington, he was secretary to Gen. Hugh S. Johnson, administrator of the NRA, and then served as an auditor in the General Accounting Office here.

While working, e received the Bachelor of Laws degree from George Washington Law School in 1937.

In April, 1936, he was appointed as a second lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps. Although instructed as an artillery officer, Lt. Draper was assigned as an assistant adjutant at the presidio in San Francisco, upon entering active duty in July, 1941.

In August he was sent to the Philippine Islands attached to the air force, and was at Clark Field at the outbreak of hostilities with Japan.

Captured at Mindanao, where he was in charge of defending forces, Lt. Draper rejected an opportunity to escape and remained behind to attend to the removal of nurses and other flying personnel. He learned the Japanese language and served as prisoners’ liaison officer at Mindanao until 1943 when he was transferred to Cabanatuan, and later to Bilibid.

Courtney Purple Heart

As the steel ring of MacArthur and Nimitz drew ever closer to the Philippines, he was placed aboard a Japanese ship bound for Japan. American fliers sank the vessel in the China Sea in December, 1944. He was 31.

Today, although he is not here to enjoy the fruits of his sacrifice, that spirit in Courtney Rogers Draper which made possible such things as low-cost veterans’ housing and the many other things he would have wanted to see in contemporary America — that spirit is exemplified in the cooperative attitude and the zest for life that you can see in the 126 young fellows who inhabit the 86 rooms of Draper Hall.

Along with Draper Hall itself, the University housing development includes another section of 48 rooms on H. St., as well as a family section, in which ten veterans’ families are living.

This was the first veterans’ housing development of any university in Washington, and its construction was due to the constant cooperation of University authorities with the federal agencies responsible for such developments.

The serious lack of furniture is helped being met by an anonymous gentleman from Virginia, whi is arranging to send up furniture from surplus government vessels.

Draper Hall was demolished in 1956 to make way for newer structures, but during its tenture it bore the name of an honored American soldier.

GWU Mail Call 1  GWU Mail Call 2

The GWU Mail Call from 2 July 1946

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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