From the Archives & Special Collections: Happy 130th Birthday, Puget Sound!

This past weekend we celebrated the 130th anniversary of the date – March 17, 1888 – that Puget Sound was founded. At the first conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in this region, Bishop Charles Henry Fowler suggested the creation of a college within the geographical bounds of the conference. Two years later, the conference voted to establish the new college in Port Townsend, Washington, but that plan failed to materialize. In 1888, the city of Tacoma pledged $22,000 and land for the proposed college, and the Articles of Incorporation for Puget Sound University were signed on March 17, 1888. The university originally included an academy, or prep school, and a liberal arts college. The first classes were held on September 15, 1890 with 88 students enrolled. In honor of this significant anniversary, please enjoy some photographs and ephemera from Puget Sound’s earliest days!

The Archives & Special Collections is open on Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. or by appointment.

By Laura Edgar

Puget Sound University’s first building was constructed specifically for the school’s use and was occupied by the university during the 1890-1891 school year. Due to financial issues, the university moved to a new location the following year and this building was leased and later sold to Tacoma Public Schools. The building has since been torn down and is now the site of McCarver Elementary School.


This is the Oiumette Building, on the corner of Yakima Avenue and South 10th Street, where Puget Sound University held classes from 1891 – 1895. This photograph was taken much later, in 1937, after the building was converted to apartments.


Puget Sound University’s first graduating class of academy students, 1891.

Early pamphlet from Puget Sound University, describing the history of its founding, circa 1890.

This entry was posted in From the Archives. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *