By Fred Engle
New buildings continue to rise in and around the campus of Eastern Kentucky University. The new Science Building is being followed by construction on a new dormitory not far from the Science Building on Kit Carson Drive. Apartments targeted for EKU students also are going up across the street from the center of campus on Lancaster Avenue.
This constant renewal has long been a part of Eastern’s history.
When Eastern opened in 1906, it inherited the campus of Central University that by then had become Walter’s Collegiate Institute. Buildings original to C.U. were the University Building, Memorial Hall, a little gymnasium which later burned down, the Industrial Arts Building and four cottages in the “faculty row.”
The cottages sometimes housed faculty and sometimes students. Two of these buildings were gone when I remember them in the 1930s, one remaining cottage was called “Ault” for the superintendent of buildings and grounds who resided in it at one time. Over time the cottages were used to house home economics, music, Eastern’s first cafeteria, agriculture, a rural school and library. The first hospital/infirmary rooms on campus were in the cottages.
My only youthful overnight hospital stay was at the clinic at Eastern – in the basement of the Industrial Arts Building. Faculty cottages No. 1 and No. 2 were torn down in the spring of 1927. Cottages No. 3 and No. 4 were homes for the school doctor and the superintendent of buildings and grounds, and I remember them.
In 1908, the Roark Building and power plant were erected. In 1912, Sullivan Hall was built, Cammack in 1917. Cammack housed the library until 1923. The Whitaker place, out Barnes Mill Road, and labeled Stateland Farm, was bought in 1912. Ten years later, the Gibson farm was purchased, and the farm became new Stateland.
The present day Stateland subdivision is at the location of the original Stateland Farm. Other pieces of property near the campus were bought, including Blanton House – purchased from Thompson Burnam. It had been the home of Central University’s chancellor. The little gymnasium burned in 1920, and a replacement went up in 1922. It was, in turn, replaced by the Weaver Health Building in 1931.
The Coates Administration Building went up in 1927. Hiram Brock Auditorium was added in 1929. Also in 1929, the Rural School opened.
Generally speaking, the buildings at Eastern have been named after university presidents, regents, legislators, state senators and other worthies.
Several of the older buildings used the language of classical Greek architecture, having Doric, Ionic or Corinthian capitals on the columns of their front facades. You will remember that the Baptist, Christian and Methodist churches on the “church corner” in Richmond had all three capitals at one time. Only the Methodists still have their columns.
PUBLICATION NOTE: Readers are reminded that a compilation of some 60 Richmond Register articles from over the last 40 years written by Dr. Grise and myself are now available in the paperback book “Madison’s Heritage Rediscovered.”
Combined with relevant photographs selected from Eastern’s Archives by my granddaughter, Kathryn Engle, who edited the volume, this book is available for $19.99 plus tax. Autographed copies may be found at the Richmond tourism office (Irvinton) on Lancaster Avenue, Clearsight Optometry and Baldwin CPAs on Main Street in Richmond.
Autographed copies are also available by calling Kathryn Engle at 893-0947 or 623-1150. These books make excellent birthday or Christmas gifts for family or friends.