Amid the gently rolling hills of southern Indiana is one of America's most beautiful college campuses. Rich in architectural tradition, harmonious in building scale and materials, and comfortably nestled in a picturesque natural environment, Indiana University Bloomington stands as a testament to careful campus planning and committed stewardship. Planning principles adopted in the earliest stages of campus development have been protected, enhanced, and faithfully preserved, resulting in an institution that can truly be called America's Legacy Campus. Lavishly illustrated with 481 photographs and brimming with fascinating details, this book tells the story of that campusa tale not only of Indiana University's buildings, architecture, and growth, but of the talented, dedicated people who brought the buildings to life.
About the Author
J. Terry Clapacs is Vice President Emeritus of Indiana University. Serving the university for forty-three years, his longest service focused on campus master planning, new building construction, real estate acquisition, and campus maintenance and beautification. He has been credited with 661 major building projects or more than half of the structures found on IU's eight campuses.
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The Emergence of a Modern University
ON THE EVENING OF JULY 12, 1883, DURING A particularly violent lightning storm, the fate of Indiana University would forever be changed. The summer and fall of 1883 was a literal and metaphorical turning point in the history of the university. The fire in the "new" Science Hall set into motion a chain of events that would accelerate the university into the modern age, creating the Indiana University we know today.
By November 1883, 20 acres of land at the eastern edge of Bloomington had been purchased for a new campus from a local farmer, Moses Dunn; an architect, George Bunting, from Indianapolis, had been hired; and plans were underway to create a new home for Indiana University. By 1885, the first three buildings — Wylie, Owen, and Mitchell Halls — were erected on the newly acquired property.
The years between 1884 and 1910, when much of the Old Crescent was established, were a time of considerable growth and change for Indiana University, as well as for Bloomington and the nation. In the space of a quarter of a century, the course of Indiana University as the modern university we know today was charted, on a new site, in new buildings, with a new curriculum, and fresh energy. The new campus on the hill first became known as University Park, possibly due to the use of the grounds for picnics by the local townspeople. The name did not last, but what did endure was the commitment to preserve the parklike environment and maintain this district as the foundation of the campus. The Old Crescent is the historic core of the Bloomington campus, and its buildings are among the most distinctive and significant structures of Indiana University Bloomington.
By November 1885, the new campus opened its doors to 183 students and 19 instructors. That year also saw the installation of a new president, David Starr Jordan, a scientist and faculty member (1885–93). The student body doubled, curriculum was modernized, and faculty expanded and upgraded. The university continued to flourish, and by the end of William Lowe Bryan's thirty-five-year tenure as Indiana University president (1902–37), the campus area had nearly tripled in size and the student body had increased to 4,943.
The main buildings of the Old Crescent form an L (or crescent) on the crest of the campus proper, beginning with Wylie and Owen Halls (1884), forming the right angle of the L. They were compact structures, built of red brick with limestone accents and vertically proportioned openings in High Victorian style, reflecting the architectural trends of the time. The building sites allowed for generous space between the structures, in part to prevent flames from easily spreading should a fire occur. This spacing would become a common practice as the campus grew. With the completion of Wylie and Owen Halls, the university commenced the planning of Maxwell (1890) and Kirkwood (1894) Halls. These two structures flanked Owen Hall and Wylie Hall, respectively, and began to fill out the crescent. This period of construction marked a shift in primary building materials and architectural style on campus. The new material used was limestone, quarried locally in Monroe and Lawrence Counties. This move to limestone signaled a change that would characterize Indiana University architecture from that time forward. The style also evolved with the times to represent a faithful Romanesque architecture with monumental towers, slate roofs, and arched openings.
Other structures that existed during the inaugural years of the new campus but that have since disappeared were Mitchell Hall (1885) and both early Men's Gymnasiums (1892 and 1896). Also, during the early days of the Old Crescent, in the tract of low ground northeast of Owen Hall, was Jordan Field, where football and baseball teams played and athletes participated in track and field competitions. On the contiguous ground to the west were a number of tennis courts for the male students. Two well-shaded courts for the women were on the south side of campus, near Mitchell Hall.
As already mentioned, during the William Lowe Bryan administration (1902–37), the Bloomington campus experienced immense growth. Lindley Hall (1902), the Student Building (1906), and Franklin Hall (1907) were constructed during this period and continued the limestone and slate material palette and the Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles established by Maxwell and Kirkwood Halls. The Student Building's arched openings and central monumental tower represent a faithful interpretation of Romanesque architecture. Lindley Hall's facade is a more modern interpretation, while Franklin Hall expresses a more hybrid Romanesque Gothic style. "This Gothic expression was a harbinger of a stylistic shift that would define much of the new campus architecture in the coming decades." The other buildings erected outside the crescent during this time were Kirkwood Observatory (1900) and the Rose Well House (1908), both within Dunn's Woods, and Swain Hall East (1910), to the south of Lindley Hall (1902).
The buildings of the Old Crescent were fabricated during a period of rapid changes in construction technology, which promoted safety and allowed new freedom in design. Following the catastrophic fires in Chicago in 1871 and Boston in 1872, the application of building codes became more prevalent in the construction industry. Architects employed by Indiana University were quick to adopt the new design standards. Furthermore, the use of iron as a building material became affordable, and the university employed it as the framework for new structures.
The Old Crescent was not, of course, important for just its buildings. Hired by William Lowe Bryan in 1915 as the university campus planner, George E. Kessler produced the first comprehensive campus master plan. He envisioned a natural campus that embraced its physical features along with a bold architectural infrastructure. "Many of his planning concepts live on today and form the basis of Bloomington's distinguished character and romantic imagery." His visions were carried on by Frederick Law Olmsted's firm. In June 1929, the Olmsted Brothers presented a master plan with green spaces, walkways, quads, and well-sited buildings. They defined the Old Crescent district, including Dunn's Woods, preserving the plan that exists today. The district remains much the same as it was before World War I, as the Olmsted firm made official what had by then become a university tradition: "the exclusion of construction within the district that would alter its character or disturb its atmosphere." The Old Crescent stands distinct from its surroundings. The Sample Gates divide it from the town of Bloomington to the west and Dunn's Woods separates it from Third Street to the south; a north–south row of buildings borders it to the east and Jordan River and Dunn Meadow bound it to the north.
The Old Crescent includes the distinguished and beautiful group of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings that surround it; Dunn's Woods, with its trees for all seasons, walking paths, and sculptures; and the expansive green space with Wells Plaza and vistas in all directions. This is the emotional core of Indiana University — if you stop for a moment, you can almost hear the heartbeats of all the past generations who have tread these rarified grounds.
The Firti Building of the "New University"
The new university is no longer a bubble in the air, but by fall will be two grand buildings towering nearly two hundred feet above the city.
— Bloomington Telephone
AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF SCIENCE HALL IN 1883, there was talk of relocating Indiana University to a "more civilized" area of the state. The people of Monroe County were so opposed to the idea that they agreed to a landowner's tax to generate funds for reconstruction. The tax raised $50,000. With the addition of the $20,000 insurance benefit from Science Hall, reconstruction became possible. But where to rebuild? Some thought remaining at Seminary Square, half a mile southwest of the courthouse, was the best option. Others deemed the site both too noisy and inadequate to the university's continued growth, bordered as it was by the Louisville, New Albany, and Salem Railroad to the west; Second Street to the north; and Walnut Street to the east. After considerable debate, the trustees spent $6,000 on a 20-acre section of Dunn's Woods a mile northeast of Seminary Square. The land was accessed from Third Street and ran north slightly beyond Wylie and Owen Halls. The new site — 3,000 feet from the courthouse — was connected to town by dirt roads that ran to mud in the rain.
The first university building constructed at Dunn's Woods is named for the Reverend Andrew Wylie, Indiana University's first president and third faculty member, and his cousin Theophilus A. Wylie, who taught natural philosophy, chemistry, and languages and also served as university librarian, historian, superintendent of grounds, vice president, and occasionally as acting president.
Lemuel Moss, Indiana University's sixth president, officiated at the laying of Wylie's cornerstone, in which artifacts from the Seminary Square campus are still held. These include a history of the university; the IU Catalogue; and scrolls inscribed with the names of local, state, and national officials, the building committee, architect, builder, and laborers. However, President Moss was not to guide the university's move from Seminary Square to Dunn's Woods. When scandal prompted his resignation in 1884, the trustees broke with the tradition of hiring "preacher presidents" and appointed professor of natural history David Starr Jordan (1885–91) as the institution's seventh and — at thirty-four years of age — youngest leader. In his inaugural address, Jordan spoke of Indiana University as "the most valuable of Indiana's possessions." He said it was "not yet a great university, not yet even a real university, but the germ of one, its growth being as certain as the progress of the seasons." The construction of higher-education facilities would prove both an indicator and a facilitator of that growth.
George W. Bunting, a well-known courthouse architect from Indianapolis, was selected to design both Wylie and Owen Halls. They are built of brick with limestone footings and foundations, much of the brick salvaged from the ashes of Science Hall, and the limestone likely quarried on-site. Both buildings feature the lowpitched roof and rectangular shape typical of the Italian Renaissance style that was so popular in the late nineteenth-century United States. Wylie's tall, hooded windows and original high, square tower are reminiscent of Renaissance Italian villas, whereas the corner spire on the tower was a Gothic feature, and the belt coursings of black brick reflect the polychrome decoration typical of the High Victorian Gothic style. After the 1900 fire discussed just below, the remnants of the entry tower and its cupola were removed and a third story was added in a much simpler style than the rest of the building. Wylie Hall is the original home of the sciences on campus. Chemistry, complete with then state-of-the-art laboratories, occupied the first floor. The university library was on the second floor, along with physics and several other departments.
Having thrice passed through flames, IU was again tried by fire in 1900. Two professors who were working late — William Lowe Bryan and Edward P. Morton — observed the blaze of a chemical fire in one ofWylie's laboratories. They rushed to the president's office in Owen Hall, which held the only telephone on campus, but found the door locked. Spying the open transom over the door, Bryan boosted Morton onto his shoulders. Morton wriggled inside to call in the alarm. Professor Bryan would make a more dignified entry into that same office two years later when he was elected president of Indiana University — a position he held for thirty-five years.
Wylie's two main floors were sound, but flames had ravaged the roof and the tower. The trustees turned disaster into opportunity and created badly needed classroom space by removing the tower and adding a new third floor and a flat roof.
In 1930 the building was again remodeled to refurbish it for the Department of Home Economics. Wylie has housed IU's women's gymnasium and its math, physics, French, German, Latin, Greek, English, law, and apparel merchandising departments. In the 1950s, it was home to Alfred Kinsey's Institute for Sex Research (now called the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction); one can imagine that at least some of the groundbreaking Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) was written in Wylie's basement. In 1993 Wylie Hall was renovated to house IU's Department of Economics, which currently occupies the building.
In the fall of 1884, rumors were afoot that President Lemuel Moss, who was married, had an overly fond relationship with a young instructor of Greek, Miss Katharine Graydon. Six university students and the school janitor, Tommy Spicer, took it upon themselves to verify or dispel the rumors. They drilled a hole in the ceiling of Miss Graydon's classroom. Spying on the classroom for several days, the group observed the president and Greek instructor exchanging gifts, endearments, and kisses. They made formal accusations to the trustees, after which both President Moss and Miss Graydon resigned. The group, which became known as the Moss Killers, is memorialized in this photograph. Note the saw, drill, and hatchet displayed on the wall behind them.
A Citadel in the Woodlands
The commanding position of the land and the beauty of the natural forest which occupies it render this one of the most attractive college sites in the country.
— Indiana University Board of Trustees
WHILE NEARLY ALL THE TREES HAD BEEN felled on the original Seminary Square campus, the trustees were careful to avoid that mistake at Dunn's Woods, which greeted the new residents with a display of autumnal splendor. Two majestic gingko trees that were part of the original woods still stand — one in front of Owen Hall and the other in front of Wylie Hall — like leafy sentinels guarding the path to higher learning.
Sited at right angles to each other and both designed by architect George W. Bunting, Owen and Wylie Halls form the bend of IU's historic Old Crescent. Owen is a brick cube with heavy footings of limestone that was likely quarried onsite. Like those of Wylie Hall, its belt courses, sills, lintels, and other trim are limestone. Both buildings inspire a feeling of strength and stability that must have been reassuring after the university's travails with fire and a controversial president. Unlike Wylie, Owen's low-pitched, hipped roof features the wide cornices supported by decorative brackets that are typical of the Italianate style. The building's many ninety-degree angles are offset by two foliated terra-cotta fans adorning decorative gables. The fan on the east gable depicts Bacchus playing his flute amid peacocks and grape clusters, while on the west gable a cherub surveys the Old Crescent. Owen was extensively remodeled in 1909-10, with the addition of skylights and the opening up of the third-story attic. The shed roof of the entry tower was replaced with a higher hipped roof and cornice to match the Victorian Gothic style of the rest of the building. Remnants of the ornamentation below the original roof were preserved in the exterior walls of the new tower.
Owen Hall is named in honor of three brothers: David Owen, Indiana's first state geologist, who performed the pioneering geological surveys of Indiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas; Indiana University professor of natural science and chemistry Richard Owen, who was elected Purdue's first president but wisely resigned after two years and returned to IU; and Robert Owen, the eldest of the brothers, who was an Indiana University trustee, state and federal member of Congress, humane Civil War prison commandant, and champion of women's rights. Together the brothers assembled the Owen Cabinet, a collection of soils, minerals, rocks, fossils, and skeletons unrivaled in North America. Most of the collection went up in smoke when Science Hall at Seminary Square was struck by lightning in 1883.
Excerpted from "Indiana University Bloomington"
Copyright © 2017 J. Terry Clapacs.
Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
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Table of Contents
Foreword by Michael A. McRobbie, xi,
Introduction by J. Terry Clapacs, xv,
In the Beginning: The Seminary Square Campus by James H. Madison, xxvi,
THE OLD CRESCENT,
THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES,
GREEN SPACES AND PUBLIC ART,
CREAM AND CRIMSON SPIRIT,
The Way Things Might Have Been, 436,
Indiana University Bloomington Campus Maps, 454,
Master Planners at Indiana University Bloomington, 463,
Chronology of Architecture, Art, and Green Spaces, 469,
Glossary of Architectural Terms, 473,
For Further Reading, 493,