Up Close and Personal: Campus Tour

By George P. Edmonston Jr.

DOWNTOWN CAMPUS LOCATION (1868-1889)...In 1868, a small and struggling Corvallis College was designated as Oregon's land-grant institution thanks to the efforts of one of its faculty members. The college was originally located in downtown Corvallis on the block where City Hall and the Corvallis Moose Lodge are currently located. The first college building was a structure built in 1858 and added onto in 1876. In 1871, the college purchased 34.85 acres west of downtown for the college farm, as specified by the Morrill Act, the federal act passed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 that provided for a land-grant institution in each state. The $4,500 needed for the purchase was raised by 100 local citizens. These lands included the lower campus area and the future site of Benton Hall.

BENTON HALL (1889)...In 1885, The State Agricultural College Association of Citizens of Benton County incorporated itself for the purpose of acquiring the funds required to provide for a new college building on "College Hill," part of the college farm site. The cornerstone for the new building was laid in 1887, and the completed building was accepted in 1888. The college moved from its downtown location into the new building in 1889.

First called the College Building or the Administration Building, it has been known as Benton Hall since 1947. Unfortunately, the designer is unknown. The building was constructed at a cost of $25,000, paid for by the citizens of Benton County. It is a frame building with a brick exterior, and the brick was cemented over in 1899. The original entrance featured a large stairway up to the second floor but this was removed in 1899. A clock was not installed until 1988. Prior to that time, clock faces were painted on the tower. According to some accounts, lights were once placed on the tower to keep couples off the front lawn area at night.

Benton Hall has served OSU in many capacities. When first built, it contained all the college's classroom and laboratory space. It housed the library until 1918, the President's Office until 1923, and many administrative offices through the 1940s. Currently, it is the home of OSU's Music Department, which has occupied Benton Hall since the mid-1920s.

WOMEN'S CENTER (1892)...The Station Building, known today as the Women's Center, was constructed in 1892 for the Agricultural Experiment Station and contained a chemistry lab in the basement. The structure combines Queen Anne and Gothic Revival influences and, apart from an addition constructed in 1920, looks much the same as it did more than 100 years ago. It has also housed paleontology labs, the bookstore and the student health center.

APPERSON HALL (1899-1900)...Originally called Mechanical Hall, this building was constructed after the first Mechanical Hall (built in 1889) burned in 1898. Lost in that fire were the college's athletic equipment, dressing rooms and shower facilities. The new Mechanical Hall, dedicated in 1900, was designed by Portland architect Edgar H. Lazarus. Its facade is Oregon gray granite and sandstone, done by French stone workers. The third floor was added in 1920, the same year the building was named for John T. Apperson, an Oregon Agricultural College regent from 1888 until his death in 1917. Apperson Hall has been used by the College of Engineering its entire life. It also housed the printing department for many years. Today, the building is used by the civil, construction and environmental engineering departments.

EARLY CAMPUS PLANNING (1909)...OSU's first campus planning efforts began soon after William Jasper Kerr assumed the college's presidency in 1907. In 1909, OAC contracted with John C. Olmsted (son of New York City's Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted) to create a comprehensive, long-range campus plan. Olmsted presented his ideas to President Kerr in October 1909 after visiting the campus in June. Among his recommendations were: planting of trees and development of buildings of a simple classical design (most new buildings for the next 30 years were red brick with white terra cotta trim).

EDUCATION HALL (1902)...Education Hall was originally built as Agriculture Hall and was designed by Charles H. Burggraf of Albany, who also designed Waldo Hall (on campus) and several other public buildings throughout the state. The Oregon gray granite on the lower facade was quarried in the Cascades. By 1909 the building was known as Science Hall. In the early 1920s, Linus Pauling (a 1922 OAC graduate and two-time Nobel Prize winner) took classes and labs and also taught classes in the building. It was damaged by fire in 1927 and remodeled in 1940 as Education Hall, which the School of Education has occupied since that time. The wire mesh was put up in 1996 when workers discovered that the stone facade was not properly attached to the building's frame.

VALLEY GYMNASTICS CENTER (1898)...The evolution of this architecturally unique building has come full circle. Built in 1898 as the college gymnasium and armory, it was the first of two buildings designed by Portland architect Edgar M. Lazarus (Apperson Hall is the other). It served as the college armory until 1910; the men's and women's gym from 1899 to 1914; the women's gym from 1914 to 1926; the rehearsal hall for the cadet band and symphonic orchestra; and was used for commencement from 1899 to 1916. It later housed the Horner Museum (1936-50) and the college theater (Mitchell Playhouse, 1951-1990). After being condemned in 1990, the building was restored in 1992 as the training facility for OSU's nationally ranked women's gymnastics team with a donation from OSU alumni Wayne and Gladys Valley.

JOHN V. BENNES...Bennes was a prolific Portland architect who designed more than 30 buildings on the Oregon State campus from 1907 to 1940. He also planned additions and renovations to several buildings. Bennes, an admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright, was an exponent of "Prairie School" design for residences in Portland, but his styles ran the gamut. Bennes' unity of design at OAC was characterized by many as "exceptional." The first building on campus representing his work was a dairy barn (the first of six he designed for the college), and he also designed buildings for at least one branch experiment station and other state higher education campuses. Other Corvallis buildings credited to Bennes include the Presbyterian church, the Masonic Building, the Bexell House on 30th St. and possibly the Heart of the Valley Center.

McALEXANDER FIELDHOUSE (1909-1910)...Designed by John
Bennes, the building was constructed in 1909-1910 as the Armory, the back portion of the structure serving as the college's heating plant. Today, it houses offices for Army and Air Force ROTC. The massive main interior area is used by Recreational Sports. The old heating plant area is now the rifle range. It is named for Ulysses Grant McAlexander, commandant of OAC cadets from 1907 to 1911 and 1915 to 1916. A new heating plant was built in 1923 (another Bennes creation) and was expanded several times between the 1940s and the 1970s. The original smokestack from 1923 was removed in 1994.

...Designed by Charles H. Burggraff (who also designed Education Hall), Waldo Hall was completed in 1907 as a women's dormitory. It originally contained 115 rooms and could accommodate up to 300 women. When it opened, the cost of room and board was $3.50 per week. The building also included domestic science labs and classrooms, and faculty women were allowed to live in Waldo until 1912. It was named in honor of Dr. Clara Humason Waldo, an OAC regent from 1905 to 1919. Waldo Hall was used as a dorm until 1965. Today, it houses the anthropology department, the OSU Press and the public health department.

GOSS STADIUM AT COLEMAN FIELD AND SITE OF BELL FIELD (1907)...OSU has played baseball on the same site since 1907, the year the university began playing organized collegiate baseball. It is the oldest college/university baseball diamond in the Pac-10 and one of the oldest in the United States. It was renamed Goss Stadium at Coleman Field in 1998 when a new grandstand and press box were constructed with funds donated by alumni John and Eline Goss of Portland. Ralph Coleman served as OSU head baseball coach for 35 seasons, from 1923 to 1966, and is the only baseball coach in Oregon State history to take the Beavers to the College World Series (1952).

Immediately to the west of Coleman Field...one of Oregon State's most important football stadiums was located here, on the current site of the Dixon Recreation Center, from 1913 until 1953, when Parker Stadium (now Reser Stadium) opened. The stadium was named Bell Field, had a seating capacity of about 22,000 (as stated in the 1951 OSC Football Media Guide), and in 1921 was named in honor of J.R.N. Bell, a Presbyterian minister, former regent and the leading Beaver fan of his generation, who oftentimes referred to himself publicly as the school's "mascot."

LANGTON HALL (1915)...Another Bennes-designed building, Langton was built in 1915 as the Men's Gymnasium. In front of the building is The Runner, a bronze sculpture (1920) that was one of the first pieces of artwork used to decorate the campus. The building was used for men's basketball games and commencement until Gill Coliseum opened in 1950. Today, it houses the intramural sports offices and the department of exercise and sport science, is used for physical education classes and is the facility in which members of the OSU wrestling team train. In the early 1970s, the building was named for Clair V. Langton, head of health and physical education from 1928 to 1964.

MEMORIAL UNION (1927-28)...Known to generations of Oregon Staters as simply the "MU," OSU's Memorial Union building was built in 1927-28 as a monument to those who have given their lives in defense of the nation, as well as a center for student life on campus. Built entirely with private donations and gifts (at a cost of around $750,000), Oregon State students had assessed themselves a fee of $3 a term, beginning in January 1922, to fund the construction. One of the few buildings of the era not attributed to John Bennes, it was designed by a 1907 OAC graduate, Lee Thomas, and is considered one of the finest examples of neoclassic architecture in Oregon. The building was dedicated on June 1, 1929. The east and west wings (bookstore and commons) are later additions, having been added in 1960 and extensively renovated in the 1990s. The MU was owned by the Memorial Union Corporation until 1965, when it transferred the facility to the State Board of Higher Education.

MORELAND HALL (1917)...This John Bennes-designed building was opened in 1917 as the Forestry Building and was used by the College of Forestry until Peavy Hall was completed in the 1970s. OSU's English Department has occupied the building since then. In 1973, it was named for W.W. Moreland, a Corvallis College faculty member in the 19th century and clerk of the State Legislature. Moreland is credited with urging the legislature to accept the conditions of the Morrill Act, which led to the designation of Corvallis College as the state's land-grant institution. Remnants of Forestry's original arboretum are located behind the building.

A.D. TAYLOR'S CAMPUS PLAN (1926)...In January 1926, A.D. Taylor, a landscape architect from Cleveland, Ohio, presented to the university community a revision of the 1909 Olmsted campus plan. His recommendations for the 100-acre central campus included:

*east or lower campus to be developed as a park area.

*development of quads--administration, agriculture/academic, engineering, separate men's and women's recreation, etc.

*moving barns beyond 35th St.

*development of 30th St. as a boulevard and the western edge of central campus.

*landscape plantings to emphasize building entrances or screen portions and create or enhance vistas; use of group plantings and specimen and flowering trees; and establishment of an arboretum.

WEATHERFORD HALL (1928)...John Bennes designed this beautiful building, which was built in 1928 (in just six months) as the Men's Dormitory. It was actually a complex of five halls linked together and could accommodate up to 344 men. Originally just the center tower portion was named Weatherford Hall (for James K. Weatherford, an alumnus, attorney, and longtime OAC regent from 1885 to 1927) but in 1957, the entire building became known by this name. Taylor's campus plan called for the construction of three additional complexes at each corner of the quad in which Weatherford is located, but tight funding for higher education during the Depression nixed the idea. A dining hall was added in 1957. Today, this campus landmark is empty and awaits a major fund-raising campaign for restoration.

FAIRBANKS (1892)...Built in 1892 as a dormitory for men, it was originally known as Cauthorn Hall and named for state Senator and OAC Regent Thomas Cauthorn. It was designed by architect W.D. Pugh in an architectural style that has been characterized as "eclectic." When first opened, the dorm could accommodate more than 100 students and included water, steam heat, electric lights, dining room and kitchen. In the early 1900s, OAC faculty member and historian John Horner (for whom Horner museum was named) and his wife served as dorm "parents." From 1915 to 1931, the building was used as a women's dorm and, by 1927, was known as Kidder Hall, in memory of Ida Kidder, OSU's first professional librarian.

WOMEN'S BUILDING (1926)...The Italian Renaissance building, constructed in 1926 as the women's gymnasium, was designed by John Bennes and is considered one of his grandest structures on campus. It was also the only campus building he designed through an open competition (there were 14 entries). The brick used in its construction was fired in Monroe (Ore.). The building includes a 30' X 70' swimming pool and a lounge and assembly room containing a large fireplace. It currently houses the dean's office, faculty offices and classrooms for the College of Health and Human Sciences.

MILAM HALL (1914)...One of Bennes' early buildings, its first unit was constructed in 1914 for the School of Domestic Science, which later became the School of Home Economics. Additions to the building were built in 1920 (east wing) and 1952 (west wing). In 1976, it was named for Ava Milam, the longtime dean of home economics (1917-1950). The east wing of the building today houses the university's history department.

STRAND AGRICULTURAL HALL (1909)...The first unit of this building, constructed in 1909 and called the Agronomy Building, was designed by John Bennes and his partners. The second and third units were built in 1911 and 1913. In the 1910s and 1920s, greenhouses were located on the building's south side, where the MU pay parking lot is today. Most departments within the College of Agricultural Sciences have been housed here at one time, many moved as programs expanded. Today it houses the College of Agricultural Science's dean's offices, the ethnic studies department and several other programs. It was named for August L. Strand in 1984, OSU president from 1942 to 1961.

SOCIAL SCIENCES HALL (1912)...Another Bennes-designed building, it was constructed in 1912 as the Dairy Building. It has been used by the College of Liberal Arts for several decades. When Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Bernard Malamud (who wrote The Natural) was on the Oregon State faculty, he taught English classes in this building in the late 1940s and 1950s. Alpha Hall (for women, built 1889) originally occupied this site.

BEXELL HALL (1922)...John Bennes designed the building, which was constructed in 1922 as the Commerce Building. It has housed the College of Business (and its predecessors, such as the School of Commerce) its entire existence. It also housed the president's offices from 1923 to 1972. In 1966 it was named for John A. Bexell, founder and head of OAC School of Commerce from 1908 to 1931.

SHEPARD HALL (1908)...Shepard Hall was constructed in 1908 as the YMCA/YWCA, as well as space for student activities. It was not an official campus building. It was designed by a Portland architect named McNaughton and named for Clayborn L. Shepard, OAC's YMCA general secretary in 1905-06. Shepard was largely responsible for raising funds for the facility but died before it was built. Its basement included a swimming pool, which was used by female students until the Women's Building pool was completed in 1926. The building was also used as a hospital during the flu epidemic of 1918-19; in January 1919, 26 students and townspeople occupied rooms on the second floor. The School of Education rented space in Shepard Hall from the late 1920s until 1940. In 1940, the college (that is, Oregon State College or OSC) purchased the building, which has housed the speech communication department.

BATCHELLER HALL (1913)...Another of Bennes' early designs, this building was constructed in 1913 and originally housed the School of Mines. It was later named for James H. Batcheller, head of the School of Mines from 1919 to 1942. Today, the building is used by the College of Engineering.

KIDDER HALL (1918)...John Bennes designed this building, which was constructed in 1918, as the college library. He also designed the library's west wing, built in 1941. Plans also called for an east wing which was never built. In 1954, the library was named the Kerr Library in memory of William Jasper Kerr, OAC president from 1907 to 1932. After a new library was built in 1963 (now the Valley Library), the building was named Kidder Hall for Ida Kidder, OAC librarian from 1908 to 1920. This was the second building to bear Kidder's name and was the home of the University Archives from 1963 to 1972. Today it houses the College of Science dean's office, the mathematics and statistics departments, and part of the Communication Media Center.

Kidder Hall was the second building to serve as OSU's library. Previous to this structure, the library had been located in the Administration Building (Benton Hall). The 1963 Kerr Library building was enlarged in 1971 and in the late 1980s, planning began for a new library facility. Today's facility, the Valley Library, is a $40 million enlargement and renovation of the 1963/1971 structure. It was funded largely by the Valley Foundation (founded by OSU alumni Wayne and Gladys Valley) and was dedicated on May 28, 1999.

PHARMACY BUILDING (1924)...Yet another Bennes design, this building was constructed in 1924 and has been used exclusively by the College of Pharmacy since that time. The second floor included a model drugstore, which was described in a pharmacy trade magazine of the time as providing "a laboratory for instruction in store arrangement, showcase and window decorating, and practical salesmanship of drugs and druggists' sundries." An addition to the building was constructed in 1966.