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Campus buildings keep legacies alive

Posted on 09.27.2017
Photos by Kiuno Cann, Photo Illustration by Andy Carr

Photos by Kiuno Cann, Photo Illustration by Andy Carr

Since its establishment in 1902, the University of Indianapolis has gone through a series of changes in name, student body, programming and leadership. As the climate of the campus changed, so did its physical appearance. Buildings were constructed and razed and in some cases, their names were changed multiple times before they became what they are known as today. Many are named after former university presidents and influential faculty and alumni, according to University Archivist Mark Vopelak.

The first building on campus was Good Hall. Completed in 1905, it was originally named the Administration Building and served as the entire campus for the first school year. In 1970, when the fifth president, Gene Sease, was inaugurated, the building was renamed Good Hall after the third president Irby J. Good, according to Vice President of Mission Michael Cartwright, who is working on a current history of the university.

Good was one of the first two graduates of the university and served as a professor and business manager from 1908, the year he graduated, until he took office as president in 1915, according to “Dowright Devotion to the Cause,” former professor of History and Political Science and university historian Fredrick Hill’s book about UIndy’s history. Good served for nearly 30 years, according to Cartwright and Vopelak.

“He [Good] was the kind of persistent person who kept things alive even when he wasn’t able to make the university grow or to become as strong as he hoped it would be,” Cartwright said. “But he kept it going until he stopped being president.”

Good’s successor was I. Lynd Esch. Esch was supposed to take office on March 1, 1945, but Good unexpectedly died of a heart attack on Feb. 24 of that year, according to Hill’s book. Within three days of Good’s death, Esch took office.

“Esch was quite good in dealing with multiple kinds of audiences, and so he not only could speak to the university’s church affiliation with the Evangelical United Brethren church, but he could also speak to businessmen and to people who were interested in civic affairs,” Cartwright said. “So he was able to bring multiple constituencies together for the college and help it to grow and stabilize.”

Cartwright said that Esch took over the university’s presidency when the school was close to shutting down. At the time, there were only 140 students and nine faculty on campus. By the time Esch left in 1970, the student population was up around 1,000.

What is now Esch Hall originally was called the Academic Building upon its construction in 1958. However, at the same time Good Hall was renamed, Sease decided to honor his predecessor by changing the building’s name to Esch.

“It was my understanding that he [Sease] wanted to build on the past, but he was also very much a forward-looking person,” Cartwright said. “He rather famously talked about keeping your eye on the windshield and not spending too much time looking in the rearview mirror, unless you need to. But I think it was a gesture of some respect to his immediate predecessor, who was President Esch, and to President Good.”

Roberts Hall also is named after a former president. John Roberts was the first university president, serving from 1905 to 1908. He was a clergyman in the EUB church and active in trying to start the university, sitting on the committee to find the first president, according to Cartwright. When the committee members could not find a president, Roberts was selected. He agreed, thinking that the university would open in the fall of 1906, but the committee insisted on beginning in the fall of 1905. In less than three months, Roberts managed to bring nine faculty and about 70 students to study and live at then Indiana Central University, according to Cartwright.

“And he [Roberts] also rather poignantly talked about how they didn’t really know what it entailed to create a college,” Cartwright said. “So he said that if they had known how difficult it would be, they probably never would have set out to do it. But in some ways, it’s probably a good thing that they didn’t know, because once they started, they held on and tried to complete it.”

There are people behind the names of some of the other residence halls on campus as well, according to Cartwright. Cravens Hall was built in 1961 and renamed  in 1986 to honor Virgina Cravens. Cravens served at then Indiana Central College as dean of women and an alumni secretary from the 1920s to the 1940s.

“She appears to have been a much-beloved person,” Cartwright said. “She actually was given an honorary doctorate at one point by the university in recognition of her multiple contributions. What I found most fascinating about her is [that] after she retired, she undertook to write a history of the alumni of the college. She never finished that, but she was always working on something associated with the university even after she had retired.”

Cory Bretz Hall originally was called North Hall upon its construction in 1979. In 2002, it was renamed in honor of Ann Cory Bretz, an alumna and benefactor of the university, Cartwright said.

“She [Bretz] and her husband, Harold . . . were incredibly loyal to our university and gave in really selfless ways, both to the university and to other causes,” Cartwright said. “They were very generous people, even though they were not people of incredible wealth. They just were very frugal. On one occasion, when Ann Cory Bretz heard that we were starting the Lantz Center for Christian Vocations and we were hoping to start an endowment, she actually came to the university and wrote a check for $20,000 on the spot.”

Crowe Hall also was renamed after two Indiana Central College alums. Built in 1988 as New Hall, Crowe was renamed in 2012 after Ray and George Crowe, brothers who played basketball at ICC in the 1930s and 1940s, respectively.  According to Cartwright and the UIndy website, Ray went on to coach the basketball team at Crispus Attucks High School that won the state championship in 1955 and 1956, becoming the first African-American team in the nation to win a state title. George also played baseball, eventually played for the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, according to the UIndy website.

In addition to the buildings around campus that are still standing, several others were a part of the campus during the 20th century but eventually razed, according to Vopelak. In 1929, the Noblitt Observatory was erected, a prominent building on campus until it was razed in 1964. A temporary gymnasium near Good Hall was torn down in 1960 when what is now Nicoson Hall was built. There also were two dormitories that are no longer standing. Trimble Hall used to stand where Roberts is located but burned down in 1988. Dailey Hall, the original women’s dorm built in 1922, was later razed in 1984.

Vopelak said that the university’s growth and change are good to see. Knowing a bit about the history of UIndy will help students to recognize that growth, he said.

“. . . In the five years that I’ve been here, it’s amazing how much the complexion of this campus has changed,” Vopelak said, “. . . you know that’s a sign of growth, and it’s a sign that the university is moving forward is when it’s expanding and it’s changing and it’s growing. You don’t want a university where kind of the same tired old buildings are sitting there for hundreds of years, and they’re not going anywhere. It’s really important to see where you’ve been so you can kind of get a sense of where you’re going.”

In addition to renaming buildings, changing leadership and adding new programs that the administration and board of trustees have a hand in, Cartwright said the students also have an effect on the history of the university.

“I think there are always places on campus that students enjoy and that become part of their life, whether it’s a building or not,” Cartwright said. “ . . . But I think what I would say about that is students [that] themselves often contribute to the culture of the university and help direct the attention of others to what’s significant about it.”

Since its establishment in 1902, the University of Indianapolis has gone through a series of changes in name, student body, programming and leadership. As the climate of the campus changed, so did its physical appearance. Buildings were constructed and razed and in some cases, their names were changed multiple times before they became what they are known as today. Many are named after former university presidents and influential faculty and alumni, according to University Archivist Mark Vopelak.

The first building on campus was Good Hall. Completed in 1905, it was originally named the Administration Building and served as the entire campus for the first school year. In 1970, when the fifth president, Gene Sease, was inaugurated, the building was renamed Good Hall after the third president Irby J. Good, according to Vice President of Mission Michael Cartwright, who is working on a current history of the university.

Good was one of the first two graduates of the university and served as a professor and business manager from 1908, the year he graduated, until he took office as president in 1915, according to “Dowright Devotion to the Cause,” former professor of History and Political Science and university historian Fredrick Hill’s book about UIndy’s history. Good served for nearly 30 years, according to Cartwright and Vopelak.

“He [Good] was the kind of persistent person who kept things alive even when he wasn’t able to make the university grow or to become as strong as he hoped it would be,” Cartwright said. “But he kept it going until he stopped being president.”

Good’s successor was I. Lynd Esch. Esch was supposed to take office on March 1, 1945, but Good unexpectedly died of a heart attack on Feb. 24 of that year, according to Hill’s book. Within three days of Good’s death, Esch took office.

“Esch was quite good in dealing with multiple kinds of audiences, and so he not only could speak to the university’s church affiliation with the Evangelical United Brethren church, but he could also speak to businessmen and to people who were interested in civic affairs,” Cartwright said. “So he was able to bring multiple constituencies together for the college and help it to grow and stabilize.”

Cartwright said that Esch took over the university’s presidency when the school was close to shutting down. At the time, there were only 140 students and nine faculty on campus. By the time Esch left in 1970, the student population was up around 1,000.

What is now Esch Hall originally was called the Academic Building upon its construction in 1958. However, at the same time Good Hall was renamed, Sease decided to honor his predecessor by changing the building’s name to Esch.

“It was my understanding that he [Sease] wanted to build on the past, but he was also very much a forward-looking person,” Cartwright said. “He rather famously talked about keeping your eye on the windshield and not spending too much time looking in the rearview mirror, unless you need to. But I think it was a gesture of some respect to his immediate predecessor, who was President Esch, and to President Good.”

Roberts Hall also is named after a former president. John Roberts was the first university president, serving from 1905 to 1908. He was a clergyman in the EUB church and active in trying to start the university, sitting on the committee to find the first president, according to Cartwright. When the committee members could not find a president, Roberts was selected. He agreed, thinking that the university would open in the fall of 1906, but the committee insisted on beginning in the fall of 1905. In less than three months, Roberts managed to bring nine faculty and about 70 students to study and live at then Indiana Central University, according to Cartwright.

“And he [Roberts] also rather poignantly talked about how they didn’t really know what it entailed to create a college,” Cartwright said. “So he said that if they had known how difficult it would be, they probably never would have set out to do it. But in some ways, it’s probably a good thing that they didn’t know, because once they started, they held on and tried to complete it.”

There are people behind the names of some of the other residence halls on campus as well, according to Cartwright. Cravens Hall was built in 1961 and renamed  in 1986 to honor Virgina Cravens. Cravens served at then Indiana Central College as dean of women and an alumni secretary from the 1920s to the 1940s.

“She appears to have been a much-beloved person,” Cartwright said. “She actually was given an honorary doctorate at one point by the university in recognition of her multiple contributions. What I found most fascinating about her is [that] after she retired, she undertook to write a history of the alumni of the college. She never finished that, but she was always working on something associated with the university even after she had retired.”

Cory Bretz Hall originally was called North Hall upon its construction in 1979. In 2002, it was renamed in honor of Ann Cory Bretz, an alumna and benefactor of the university, Cartwright said.

“She [Bretz] and her husband, Harold . . . were incredibly loyal to our university and gave in really selfless ways, both to the university and to other causes,” Cartwright said. “They were very generous people, even though they were not people of incredible wealth. They just were very frugal. On one occasion, when Ann Cory Bretz heard that we were starting the Lantz Center for Christian Vocations and we were hoping to start an endowment, she actually came to the university and wrote a check for $20,000 on the spot.”

Crowe Hall also was renamed after two Indiana Central College alums. Built in 1988 as New Hall, Crowe was renamed in 2012 after Ray and George Crowe, brothers who played basketball at ICC in the 1930s and 1940s, respectively.  According to Cartwright and the UIndy website, Ray went on to coach the basketball team at Crispus Attucks High School that won the state championship in 1955 and 1956, becoming the first African-American team in the nation to win a state title. George also played baseball, eventually played for the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, according to the UIndy website.

In addition to the buildings around campus that are still standing, several others were a part of the campus during the 20th century but eventually razed, according to Vopelak. In 1929, the Noblitt Observatory was erected, a prominent building on campus until it was razed in 1964. A temporary gymnasium near Good Hall was torn down in 1960 when what is now Nicoson Hall was built. There also were two dormitories that are no longer standing. Trimble Hall used to stand where Roberts is located but burned down in 1988. Dailey Hall, the original women’s dorm built in 1922, was later razed in 1984.

Vopelak said that the university’s growth and change are good to see. Knowing a bit about the history of UIndy will help students to recognize that growth, he said.

“. . . In the five years that I’ve been here, it’s amazing how much the complexion of this campus has changed,” Vopelak said, “. . . you know that’s a sign of growth, and it’s a sign that the university is moving forward is when it’s expanding and it’s changing and it’s growing. You don’t want a university where kind of the same tired old buildings are sitting there for hundreds of years, and they’re not going anywhere. It’s really important to see where you’ve been so you can kind of get a sense of where you’re going.”

In addition to renaming buildings, changing leadership and adding new programs that the administration and board of trustees have a hand in, Cartwright said the students also have an effect on the history of the university.

“I think there are always places on campus that students enjoy and that become part of their life, whether it’s a building or not,” Cartwright said. “ . . . But I think what I would say about that is students [that] themselves often contribute to the culture of the university and help direct the attention of others to what’s significant about it.”

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