Friday, October 26, 2012

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #122

The Ezra Gillis building is the second oldest building standing on UK’s campus, predated only by the Main Building.  Over the past 120 years, the Gillis building has been home to many collegiate activities. One of the principles of a land-grant institution was that they provide agricultural support for the surrounding community and state.  In the mid 1880s, the Executive Council of the Board of Trustees passed a resolution to establish an agricultural experiment station as quickly as the college could accommodate one.  

Early photograph of the Gillis Building
In May of 1888, the College accepted a bid on the construction of the Station and ground was broken in June.  The new Experiment Station would be three stories (counting the basement) and was 70 long by  54 feet wide.  Its front entrance would face west and be graced by an archway fifteen feet wide.  Just north of the entrance, a tower would spiral skyward beyond the roof.  On the building’s north side would be an octagonal projection 18 feet by 18 feet.  It would be located just south of the Main Building. 

Botany Laboratory in the Gillis Building
Construction on the Experiment Station lasted roughly a year and the building was ready for occupancy in time for the fall 1889 semester.  The five basement rooms, designed originally as store and work rooms for the station, would first be home to the department of natural history.  The eight rooms on the main floor consisted of offices, a library, and chemical, botanical, and etymological laboratories of the Station.  The top floor was occupied by the department of chemistry, under the direction of Professor Kastle.  It held a large lecture hall that could accommodate about 75 students, several labs, and a balance room.  The octagonal room, designed with a sky light, was used as the department’s photographic room.  

Floor plan of the Gillis Building
The building was largely gutted by fire on February 23, 1891 with the most significant loss being two years’ worth of experiment and analysis records.  The building was rebuilt to the same floor plan and was completed in 1892. 

Ezra Gillis in the King Building
The Gillis building has housed natural history, chemistry, law, hygiene, public health, an infirmary, and the registrar's office through the years. It was long known as the Chemistry Building and later the Administration Annex. In 1978 it was named to honor Ezra Gillis, the first university registrar, who served from 1910 until his retirement in 1937.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #123

The Golden Jubilee, October 12-14, 1916, celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of classes on the Woodlands-Ashland campus.  The act establishing the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky was passed by the Legislature in February of 1865, but the actual operation of the school did not happen until October of 1866, hence the celebration in October, 1916.  The only person who was present on both occasions was James Kennedy Patterson.
Tug of War
Events for the Golden Jubilee included a tug-of-war between the freshman and sophomore classes (the freshmen won), an alumni smoker at the Phoenix Hotel, an alumnae dinner, the “K” dance at the armory to benefit the Kentuckian, and a parade of the classes and faculty.  There were also speeches and burgoo before the dedication of Stoll Field and the football game against Vanderbilt.

During the parade on Main Street there was a competition among the classes to come up with the most original and novel ideas.  The freshmen typified childhood, the sophomores staged a Kentucky circus, the juniors represented important events, and the seniors represented themselves. 

  Seniors as diplomas - costumes reached 8 feet high

 The juniors captured the $100.00 prize by illustrating the changes and happenings of the University’s fifty years.

Junior parade entry - 1880 was the year women were admitted
 After the parade, the students and faculty convened in the chapel for speeches and honorary degrees.  Among the fifteen recipients were Thomas Hunt Morgan, James Lane Allen, and Henry Watterson.  Thomas Hunt Morgan became a Nobel Prize winner in Medicine in 1933 for his contributions to science – he developed the gene theory of heredity.

Dr. James K. Patterson delivered an address, “Fifty years of the University” and Charles W. Dabney, president of the University of Cincinnati, spoke on “The University and the State.”  The Alumni Association presented a portrait of Dr. Patterson.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #124

In 1880, the first college football game ever played in the South was held at a field, that once pastured President’ Patterson’s cows, on State College’s campus.  That field was to become Stoll Field at the University of Kentucky.

Professor A. M. Miller, second from left
 In 1892, after years of unorganized efforts, the students determined to make something of the game of football on the State College campus.  They scheduled games with neighboring colleges and as an organized team got a geology professor, Arthur Miller, to coach the team. 

Also in 1892, the official colors were chosen by a group of students. A football fan suggested blue and white - "blue like Dick Stoll's necktie." Judge Richard C. Stoll was an alumnus and long-term Board of Trustee member.

Before the next season the Central Kentucky colleges formed the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Association (KIAA) mainly for making rules.  In 1893, State’s Coach John A. Thompson led his team to Knoxville where they beat Tennessee 56-0, the most lopsided score in the history of the rivalry between the schools.  That game was the beginning of the Kentucky-Tennessee rivalry in football.

Football game crowd at Kentucky State College; fans are seated on first wooden grandstand, designed and erected by the Engineering Department; President James K. Patterson can be seen on the back row of the grandstand, middle left
 From Carl B. Cone’s University of Kentucky, A Pictorial History, “The magic of football as a spectator sport exerted itself almost at once.  Main Street businessmen and some faculty members, most of them strangers to the game, formed a stock company.  From the proceeds of stock sales, with labor donated by engineering students, and with Patterson’s cows evicted, the grounds were improved and enclosed by a fence, and wooden stands were erected on both sides of the field.  The college authorities assigned supervision of football, baseball, and track to a faculty committee of three, though the active management of the teams devolved upon three student managers, one for each sport, elected by students who became members of the athletic association by buying season tickets.”

1898 KSC football team
 The greatest UK team of that era was the 1898 squad, known as "The Immortals." To this day, the Immortals remain the only undefeated, untied, and unscored upon team in UK football history. The Immortals were coached by W.R. Bass.

In 1909, the Wildcat is adopted as the official nickname after the cadet commandant attended a football game and commented afterwards that the team "fought like wildcats."

Ky vs. Vanderbilt
 Stoll Field was officially dedicated in 1916 at the Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt game and was named in honor of Judge Richard C. Stoll.

In 1924, McLean Stadium, named for Price McLean, an engineering student who was fatally injured in a football game in 1923, opens. The stadium held 15,000, and was built on Stoll Field.

1946 marked football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's first season. Bryant would coach at UK until 1954, coaching UK to Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl victories, in 1951 and 1952 respectively.

In 1973 the football team played the first game at Commonwealth Stadium, which had seating for 57,800 fans. UK defeated Virginia Tech, 31-26.

****October is National Archives Month.  Please visit Special Collections to see a historic display of UK Sports with a featured display on football!