Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center

Building History

Trachoma Hospital
Building in 1939 - The Missouri State Trachoma Hospital
The Hospital Clinic in 1950
Dr. Siniscal at the Hospital Clinic
Webber Homestead Photo
The Webber Homestead Site is located in the front yard of RMERC
Webber Homestead Plaque
A Closer Look at the Webber Homestead Plaque

Center History

  • On the site of the building, John Webber settled in the early 1840's. Webber took part in the naming of Rolla in the mid 1850's. John Webber wanted to name the city 'Hardscrabble' since the ground was so hard with clay and rocks, you couldn't turn the ground over to plant anything. Edmond Ward Bishop wanted to name the city 'Centertown' but George Coppedge won out by naming our town after his hometown of Raleigh, N. Carolina. He didn't spell the name out, so it was written and pronounced Rolla.
  • After John Webber moved his family down the road to Edgar Springs, MO, the Love family moved on to the property and built a large white frame house, which remained for several years. The property went back to the city.
  • During the mid 30's, Missouri was in a belt extending from Alabama to Oklahoma where Trachoma was prevalent. There were a large number of patients in the Ozark region infected with Trachoma, the leading cause of blindness at the time.  Originally, Rolla had a two story frame building used as a Trachoma Hospital on Elm Street which was too small for the increased number of patients. The Chamber of Commerce donated the land for the new building, and in 1939 the Missouri State Trachoma Hospital was opened.
  •  Even though an effective treatment was found in 1937 using oral sulfonalimides, the start of WWII diverted the available supply of theses drugs to the military.  Without the new drugs, the incidence of Trachoma returned to pre-war levels.  The hospital was built to provide treatment with an older form of antibiotics as well as perform necessary surgeries.
  • On July 1, 1957, The Trachoma Hospital in Rolla was turned over to the Highway Patrol by the State Health Department. Governor James T. Blair directed that this facility be used as a training school for the state law enforcement agency.
  • For approximately the next year and a half, the Division of Health continued to use a small section of the building as an outpatient clinic for the few remaining trachoma patients and some children who suffered from cerebral palsy. 
  • The Academy was first used for in-service training in the fall of 1957.  The newly acquired Academy was put to full use in 1958, when the 100 additional men formerly authorized by the legislature, plus 24 replacements were trained during this year.
  • Next came the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The building was used until their building was completed on Fairgrounds Road.
  • In 1964 the creation of Rock Mechanics & Explosives Research Center was established by Dr. George Clark. Originally RMERC was housed in the Buehler building on Rolla Street and moved into this site over a period of time.
  • In 1974 the Waterjet Technology Lab was created by Dr. David A. Summers at RMERC. Dr. Summers and RMERC are known all around the world for waterjetting technology and research. 


For More Historical Information look at the following sources: