From the Archives: The Universities of Puget Sound that Never Were

The 1920s were an exciting time for the University (at the time, College!) of Puget Sound. A new campus, new endowments, and students lining up to get into classes meant that the future of Puget Sound was looking bright. However, if you could believe it, in 1927 there were a grand total of five buildings on campus: Two for classes and administration, two dorm halls (one for men, one for women), and a single gymnasium. Jones hall was pulling triple duty, hosting classes, the library, and administration offices all at once. One thing was abundantly clear: The College had to expand. Fortunately, they had the resources, the space, and the momentum to accomplish that. At once, there was a flurry of proposals for what the campus should look like in ten, twenty or fifty years down the line. Would there be a bell tower? A new library needed to be built, but where? How many dorm quads did there need to be?

For every architect that the administration approached, we received a half-dozen new sketches of the campus as it could be, and twice over that for every proposed new building. Each of these sketches were kept and contemplated as the future of the College was carefully considered.

Some of the sketches, if you’re familiar with the campus, might seem a bit odd. For example, which building has the eight-story gothic bell tower by the entrance? Has the library always had those brick archways in front of it? And why isn’t the Student Union Building on any of these maps?

The truth is, though many aspects remain very similar, such as the two dorm quads, and grassy courtyard criss-crossed by sidewalks behind Jones Hall, the University would grow much more organically and much more steadily than these carefully planned prints would suggest. The economic issues of the 1930s would slow a great deal of expansion, a great deal of which would have to wait until after the Second World War and beyond.

These visions of an alternate history of the University, and more, are all kept in the Archives & Special Collections, so if you ever feel like taking a journey into the history of not just the University, but what the history of the University could have been, come visit our open hours, every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

By Zeb Howell

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