Few students ever have a reason to visit Brooks Maintenance Building. It is, however, one of the more important buildings on campus. Everything from construction services to trash removal is headquartered in Brooks Maintenance Building.
Fred E. Brooks served as steward and later superintendent of buildings and grounds at Mansfield from 1919 until his retirement in September, 1932. In that capacity, he was responsible for maintenance of the buildings including North and South halls, the old Alumni Hall, the old Gymnasium, East Hall (now Allen Hall), the Model School building (Belknap), Straughn Hall, and the principal/president’s home.
During his time at Mansfield, Brooks saw the construction of Allen Hall and Straughn Hall.
Brooks was born in Spencer, N.Y. and spent his early life there. Fred married Cora Libolt in 1890 in Elmira, N.Y. They lived in Elmira, Auburn and Binghamton (N.Y.) until Fred accepted the job at Mansfield. They had three children, Harold, Hazel, and Gladys. The Brooks were Baptists.
Cora passed away in May, 1933, less than a year after Fred’s retirement and a day after her birthday. Fred passed away at his son’s home in Westfield, N.J. June 5, 1951.
The two decades following Mr. Brooks’ death saw an unprecedented amount of growth at Mansfield and new buildings were constantly being erected to handle the growing curriculum and subsequent student population. Between 1959 and 1971 at least 14 buildings were opened. They included Alumni Hall, Alumni House, Beecher, Butler, Decker, Doane, Grant addition, Hemlock, Hut, Laurel, Manser, Maple, Memorial, and Pinecrest.
The last of the buildings to open in that era was a new maintenance building to provide for the upkeep of the growing campus. It became evident that there was a need for a centralized location for the non-academic, but still important jobs at Mansfield State College. Brooks Maintenance opened in 1972 and provided the maintenance, trades, cleaning, and buildings and grounds personnel with a centralized location in which to operate.
While Brooks Maintenance did not open until 1972, a newspaper story from 1970 announced that the building would be named in Fred’s honor. The official declaration came from the trustees at their July, 1972 meeting. The building was officially dedicated during homecoming activities Oct. 14, 1972. Daughter Hazel Brooks wrote a letter of thanks on behalf of the family to council of trustees chairman Fred Jupenlaz and college president Dr. Lawrence Park. According to trustee minutes, she wrote to Jupenlaz, “It was a gratifying experience and a day we will long remember.”
Today, Brooks Maintenance Building includes offices and other space for facilities managers, technicians, purchasing, storeroom/shipping and receiving, as well as space for tradesmen and women including those who take care of automotive, carpentry, construction, custodial, electrical, grounds, labor, and maintenance. Mansfield University would cease to function without these men and women.