Old Main Graphic 1

01-Old Main.pdf

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Old Main Graphic 1


Old Main graphic for The Built Environment Exhibit at Utah State University's Merrill-Cazier Library.






01-Old Main.pdf

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Old Main

The Lighted "A" on the Hill
A beneficiary of the Morrill Land-Grant College Act passed by Congress and signed by President Lincoln in 1862, the Utah Territorial Legislature created the Utah Agricultural College in 1888. Two years later, the south wing of Old Main opened for classes in September. Built in three stages, and designed by three different architects, Old Main has anchored the university for nearly 130 year.s.

Students studying in the Old Main Library reading room, 1903. USU Special Collections and Archives, USU A-Board Collection, Image 1359.

Flush with cash after the Territorial Legislature nearly doubled the college's budget request in 1892, the Board of Trustees scrapped the original plans to complete Old Main drawn by C. L. Thompson, and adopted Karl C. Schaub's design for an enlarged central section to adjoin the south and north wings. After completing the north wing and the connecting center structure, a financial panic ensued in 1893, forcing the college to operate on a shoestring budget for the next seven years. In 1901, the economy finally improved, allowing completing of Old Main. H. H. Mahler, the third and final architect to work on Old Main, designed the now familiar tower adorned with its famous blue "A."

Three artists’ conceptions of designs for Old Main.
(Top) C.L. Thompson’s design.
(Middle) Karl C. Schaub’s design.
(Bottom) H. H. Mahler’s design.
USU Special Collections and Archives,
USU A-Board Collection, Images 1, 1406, and 2.

Along with the south wing of Old Main, other buildings encompassing the nascent campus in 1890 included the
Experiment Station and the Experiment Station director’s residence; the President’s House; and the model barn.
USU Special Collections and Archives, Agricultural College of Utah Cyanotypes, Box 2, Folder 6


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