IV. The Buildings
"After the plans of the new building had been accepted, it
necessary to choose the location. An official group visited the new
campus and Regent Kellogg stuck his umbrella into the ground where they
decided the corner-stone should be. Fortunately, Architect Saunders took
careful bearings of that fine location for it was the only logged-off
land and some fellow stole the umbrella."
-- Edmond S. Meany, A History of the University of
The architectural competition for the design of the first
building was won by Charles Saunders. Although initially called the
Adminstration Building, in 1910 it was named Denny Hall in honor of
Arthur A. Denny, donor of most of the land for the original campus. On
July 4, 1894, the cornerstone was laid with Masonic ceremonies. A copper
box from the cornerstone of the old University building was removed,
additional documents added, and placed in the cornerstone of Denny. The
first term on the new campus began in Denny on September 4, 1895. Stone
left over from the construction was used to build the observatory. Money
left over from the legislative appropriation for Denny was used to fund
the construction of a gymnasium/drill hall and a pump/power house.
Cornerstone ceremonies, July 4, 1894 (UW 6284)
"And what an infinite relief it will be to get into the spacious
rooms of the new University, rooms big enough for a moderate sized" class
to turn around in; where there will be no stoves to explode
semi-occasionally and cover one with soot and smoke and confusion . . .
-- Pacific Wave, April 1895
Denny Hall Under Construction (UW 2221)
Denny Hall Interiors
The Catalogue for 1895-96 describes the new building as "a
commodious brick and stone structure, with recitation rooms,
laboratories, museum, assembly hall, library, business offices, and
society and auxiliary rooms . . . The building covers 20,000 square feet
of ground space. The style of architecture is French renaissance. The
building is furnished with the best known facilities for heating and
ventilating. It is believed to be suitable for the accomodation of 600
to 800 students." President's Office. The library housed a total of
6,000 volumes at the time the 1895-96 Catalogue was published.
President's Office in Denny Hall (UW 6843)
The University Library in Denny Hall, the first location of the library
on the current campus. W. C. Coffman, librarian, is standing behind the
desk at the back.(UW 16643)
The old University campus had included living quarters for some of
the students. During the first year, housing was not available on the new
campus and since the University was located some distance from downtown
Seattle, students and faculty had to commute five miles each way by
streetcar. President Graves felt that there was a need for dormitories.
The Regents and Legislature agreed and money was appropriated for a men's
dormitory (Lewis Hall) and a women's dormitory (Clark Hall). Both were
designed by architects Josenhans & Allen and built in 1896. The dining
room was in the basement of Clark Hall. According to the Sixth
Biennial Report of the Regents "the food has been of a good quality." The
Regents' report also listed the basic furniture provided, adding that
every window was fitted with a shade. "Students furnish their own bedding
and toilet sets and whatever ornament they desire for their rooms." The
occupants of these rooms added a good deal of ornament.
Men's Dormitory (Lewis Hall) (UW 6713)
Women's Dormitory (Clark Hall)(UW 2212)
"The University Observatory is a substantial stone structure
built in 1895. It consists of a dome for the equatorial telescope,
fifteen feet in diameter, with running gear for rotary motion,
manufactured by Warner & Swasey; a library and computing room, a transit
room, a clock room, a closet for photography, etc."
-- UW Catalogue, 1896-97
Observatory (UW 6831)
Gymnasium and Armory
"The gymnasium is 40 x 80 feet, well lighted and ventilated and
equipped with all the necessary apparatus. There is a dressing room on
each side, one for men and one for women, each provided with booths and
lockers, a small rental being charged for the latter. Connected with
each dressing room are four shower baths, with hot and cold water.
"The drill hall is 80 x 120 feet. From it open the Commandant's
office and three company rooms. The latter are furnished with
rifle-racks, desks, etc. Rifles, swords, belts, ammunition, targets, and
other supplies, are furnished by the War Department of the United
-- UW Catalogue, 1896-97
"Before the erection of any buildings on the new grounds the
Board of Regents adopted a wise policy by deciding that each structure
should be made of materials found in the state of Washington. In this
way, besides serving their various purposes, the buildings furnish
magnificent exhibits of the wealth of Washington in first-class building
material . . . .
"The Science Hall is located on the oval about 500 feet south of
the administration building. It is constructed of red pressed brick with
trimmings of sandstone. It is three stories in height, with seven large
rooms on each floor, and some additional space in the basement and attic.
"In form the building is T-shaped, the front having very large
circular ends, giving ideal locations for laboratories and lecture
rooms. The first floor contains the lecture rooms and laboratories for
the departments of geology and mining; the second floor, the laboratories
for zoology, and the lecture room and drawing rooms for civil
engineering; and the third floor, the lecture room for zoology and
botany, the botanical laboratories and the lecture room and drawing rooms
for mechanical engineering.
"The wing in the rear is 50 by 60 feet in size, and is separated
from the front by light wells. It contains the State Museum, and is
arranged in a general way so that the geological collections occupy the
first floor, the zoological collections the second floor, and the
botanical collections the third floor."
-- UW Catalogue, 1902-03
Science Hall (Parrington)(UW 6836)
"Our University Bell"
"In the centre of the building, high upon its tower, swings and
rings our college bell. Beneath it lies the roofs of the University, its
gables and turrets. It looks down upon the tops of the tallest pines,
and over a fair landscape of snowy mountains, green pines and blue waters
. . .
-- Pacific Wave, December 14, 1898
The Denny Bell
The bell that hangs in the belfry of Denny Hall was purchased for
$368 during the Civil War and brought from Troy, N.Y., around Cape Horn
to Seattle. It was hung in the belfry of the old University building in
downtown Seattle and was rung for the first time on March 19, 1862. At
the time it was the only bell in the region and was used not only to
signal the start of classes, but as a fire alarm and to note special
events, and, during periods of heavy fog, to help guide boats on Elliott
Bay. The 400-pound bell was moved by wagon in 1895 to what is now Denny
Hall. It was used to signal classes until 1912 when the Blethen Chimes
were installed. The bell is now rung once a year at Homecoming.
Last modified: Tuesday November 25, 2008