History of Eastern Illinois University's Old Main


Old Main Home - The Beginning - The Construction - Charleston - The Campus - A Future -
Dr. Barnhart - Dr. Small - 1999-2000 Exhibit Gallery & Acknowledgments

The text and images appearing here are taken from the centennial exhibition on the history and architecture of Old Main—a joint venture of the Tarble Arts Center and the History department’s Historical Administration Program. "The Architecture of  Eastern’s ‘Old Main’: Aesthetics, Education, and Politics" ran from November 20, 1999 through January 16, 2000.


Click on a link to travel through the exhibit for label text and images:

œ Old Main: The Beginning
       Marking the 100th anniversary of Eastern's Old Main, a century's worth of images emerge
       to tell the story of the school's founding mission.  This section offers a concise overview of
       architectural styles that dominated the campus during the first half of the 20th century.

œ A Building for the Ages
       Who is responsible for constructing Old Main?  The answer to that question is not so
       simple as one might think, as this section will explain.  Examine the artistic elements
       incorporated into Old Main's construction and explore its evolution from "drawing board"
       to completed structure.

œ Charleston: The Normal School City
       Eastern's arrival in Charleston was not a "done deal."  The political background of
       Charleston's  selection as the site for the school is highlighted in this section.  With the
       construction of the school the face of Charleston changes.  Images and text discuss this
       change.

œ The Campus: A Changing Landscape
       This section explores how our campus has changed over the years with images of
       Eastern's lost vistas and early classroom photographs.

œ A Future for the Past
       The treasure of our campus architecture is a heritage worth protecting.  See what
       Eastern Illinois University is doing to meet its obligation to preservation.  What does the
       future hold for Eastern Illinois University?  This section provides examples of how EIU
       has responded to the demands of the future while maintaining a strong connection to the past.

œ That "Noble Project:" The Founding of Eastern Illinois University and the Origins of Old Main 1895-1899
       by Terry A. Barnhart

œ A Building for the Ages:  The History and Architecture of Old Main
       by Nora Pat Small

œ 1999-2000 Exhibit Gallery & Acknowledgments and Snapshot Gallery
        "We would like to thank . . ."  So many people contributed to the completion of the Old
        Main exhibit and thanks are in order.  You can see "snapshots" of the Historical
        Administration class in action as they construct the Old Main exhibit.  You can also see
        images of the final product.


"Old Main" stands today as a tangible link to the past and present of Eastern Illinois University. The building’s history and architecture embody the ideas, values, and personal visions of those who willed the university into existence in 1895, and the construction of Old Main as its first building in 1899. Those voices and visions became an enduring part of Eastern’s heritage, which we appropriately commemorate in 1999. The 100th anniversary of Old Main and the opening of classes at Eastern Illinois State Normal School (as EIU was originally known) is indeed an occasion for substantive reflection. Eastern’s mission and identity have changed dramatically over the years, yet withal we have continued to build on time-honored traditions. As Eastern has grown into the regional university of today, it continues to draw strength from its past. Each generation of faculty and students who have taught and attended EIU has added to that experience and left its signature in history.


Old Main Home - The Beginning - The Construction - Charleston - The Campus - A Future -
Dr. Barnhart - Dr. Small - 1999-2000 Exhibit Gallery & Acknowledgments

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