Lincoln Hall, a two-and-a-half story brick building named for U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, was built in 1895-96 to serve as a men's residence hall. It replaced the men's Rampasture, which had occupied the top floor of the old wooden Mechanical Building, where the living conditions were appalling, at best. There, the men would sleep four to a bed or even on the floor. When first constructed, the new men's dorm accommodated 95 students, two per room. In its final years as a dormitory, it housed 66 men. Over more than a century of continuous use, Lincoln remained a men's dormitory, tying together several Nevada generations by common experience.
Constructed from plans designed by the San Francisco firm of Percy and Hamilton, the building is an example of the late 19th-century "Eclectic" architectural style, incorporating elements from several earlier styles. It and neighboring Manzanita Hall were the oldest continuously operating residence halls in the western United States until their closure in 2015. The two dorms, along with Morrill Hall, comprise the only three remaining buildings on campus built before the turn of the 20th century.
Between 1942 and 1946, the men of Lincoln Hall moved to either the gymnasium or Manzanita Hall to make room for the pre-flight Cadets of the United States Army-Air Corps who attended the University while waiting for the call to duty for their country or while in basic training.
Lincoln’s second Hall Master was Scott Jamison, who left a mark on Lincoln Hall that continues in the form of the Lincoln Hall Association (LHA). The LHA had a constitution, bylaws and officers who were members of the junior and senior classes. In order to be a member, a man had to live in Lincoln and not be associated with any of the University’s Greek organizations.
Throughout the years, the time-honored LHA has gone through many changes. Disbanding for several years during World War II, it seemed to have disappeared altogether in the 1960s. Over time, LHA had to adapt to a hall government with a president, not a mayor, and the hall master became the resident director, conditions sent down from University administration. During the 1970s, LHA re-emerged as a drinking club which was limited to males 21 years and older. In later years, LHA returned to its lofty traditions of the past, with more involvement from students living in the dorm, in order to strengthen the sense of ownership and pride that came with living in Lincoln.
Following a complete seismic retrofit and interior renovation, the building reopened for the Fall 2016 semester as the new home of the departments of Sociology, Communication Studies, and History.