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In this photograph, we see an important part of campus that has moved many times during its existence, housed in a building that is still standing today.  Can you identify this space and where it was located?  When was this image captured?  What details stand out to you?  Share your ideas in the comments and we will reveal the story behind the image on Friday.


University Hall was built in the center of campus in 1877, and in the center of University Hall stood the library. In this image, captured on October 21, 1899, we see the library with its grand central staircase, busts and artwork on the walls, banners celebrating class victories during Field Day each year, the librarian’s desk in the middle of the room, display cabinets for artifacts, and bookshelves on the second floor.  The library eventually outgrew this space and moved in 1913 to its own building, which is now part of Stewart Center.

The image below shows an art exhibit in the University Hall Library in 1896.

Art exhibit, 1896

Please join us again on Monday, April 23, for our next From the Archives mystery photo.

10 Responses to “From the Archives: The Central Staircase”

  1. Michele Bassett

    Central Staircase, Eliza Fowler Hall, now in Purdue Memorial Union

  2. Joseph Yeaman

    I believe it is the Busts on the book shelf

  3. Bill Asher

    Univerwsity library in University Hall.
    I had an office there in the basement in AUS which was then part of the Speech Dept in 1952 to 1955

  4. michelle

    is this University Hall?

  5. Terry

    Wow, I have no idea! Sure is beautiful, though! Kinda looks like the Union but naaah!

  6. Tiffany Eakin

    University Hall. Original Library. Late 1800’s.

  7. Earle Nay

    I agree with Tiffany: Original library, University Hall. The steel works gives it away
    as University, the library tables and the stacks in the background on the second floor
    as the library. Don’t know when University Hall was remodeled, but a visit to the
    upper floor shows the steel beams still supporting the roof. (as of 1995)

  8. Stacey Mickelbart

    It seems like those with a long history at Purdue think it’s University Hall, but that staircase and the windows at the top look a lot like the stairwell at the east entrance to Matthews Hall. That would be my guess for this early library location, assuming a lot of renovation between then and now!

  9. Martha Chiscon

    Looks like the Union main staircase to me prior to a wall and hallway being built.

  10. James Britton

    Wow! Can we restore University Hall to its original glory?

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