Skip to main content
Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
University Archives & Manuscripts - Exhibits
History of Anderson Hall

Originally known as the Practical Agriculture building, and commonly called the Main College building, Anderson Hall was formally named in 1902. It was named to honor President John A. Anderson, who served 1873-1879. All the presidents of Kansas State University have used Anderson Hall for their headquarters, with the exception of President Joseph Denison who predates the building, 1863-1873. The building was added to the national historic register in 1980.

Industrialist masthead, 1878
The only available image of Anderson Hall as just the north section
comes from the engraving in the masthead of The Industrialist

In 1877, the state legislature appropriated $12,500 in funds for the north wing of the main college building. The building was designed by E. T. Carr, an architect from Leavenworth. Jacob Winne of Manhattan was awarded the contract for the stone work for $5,151.57, with William Ulrich, 1877 KSAC graduate, winning the contract for cutting the stone. Henry Bennett of Silver Lake, Kansas, was awarded the contract for the woodwork, including painting, iron work and completing the building, for $5,700. Excavation began on March 27, 1878 with occupation in March 1879. Two stories high, this wing contained classrooms for English, drawing, mathematics and practical agriculture. It also housed the President's office, cloakrooms, and in the northeast corner of the main floor, the college library resided from 1879 until 1894.

Library in Anderson Hall, ca. 1890
"The new building is very convenient for the purpose for which it was erected, and is a handsome structure of which, as a State, we may be proud. At the portal let all stop and admire the work of the Ulrich Bros., one of whom is a graduate of the College. The stone was dressed and cut after a design by Prof. Walters; and the rustic letters, 'KSAC,' and the date of the erection, is decidedly a work of art. On the first floor, besides the cloak-rooms and Prof. Shelton's, is the Secretary's room and the large library room with its antiquated volumes and Congressional globes. To be sure, there are some fine books there, but they are mainly such as would suit only a Rip Van Winkle sort of a Regent or student. We did not see even so much as one late dictionary or encyclopedia; and it looked as though the Regents, or some one or some body, were afraid to let the students know what the world was doing in the age of progression." - from The Industrialist (the college newspaper), May 24, 1879.

Anderson Hall, ca 1882 In 1880, the Board of Regents asked for an appropriation of $30,000 to erect the central portion of the main college building, including the tower. The contract for mason work was awarded to Ulrich Brothers at $9,787; carpentry work was awarded to J. H. Lynch at $9,785; painting was awarded to C. D. Marvin at $600; plastering was awarded to Alexander Love of Lawrence at $2,200, with E. T. Carr being made supervising architect of the project. This building, including the retrofitting of the north wing, was the first to be provided with steam heat, installed by D. Austin and Company at a cost of $4,775.

"A sealed case, containing college catalogues from 1874, the hand-book, college reports, commencement addresses, bound volumes of the Industrialist, Riley county sketch-book, and other documents, has been placed in the large space beneath the vault of the new building, where, incased in solid masonry, it will remain until resurrected by some curious antiquary, a thousand years hence." - from The Industrialist, June 4, 1881

Anderson Hall floorplan, ca 1882 As illustrated in the floorplan on the right, the central portion of the main building served a variety of uses. Beyond the vestibule, separated by glass doors, is the front hall. Flanking the front hall on the south side is a reception room for friends of students and other honored guests, with a small wash room off the side. On the north side of the hall is the President's office, which is also used for faculty meetings and student consultations, with a fireproof vault room beyond. Beyond the front hall is the main hall which extends the entire 250 foot width of the building, containing two staircases and a circular opening to the second floor, over which a stained glass skylight gives the appearance of a dome. At the rear of the building is the chapel with a gently sloping floor to accommodate the sixteen tiers of seating (folding chairs of perforated wood and iron made at Racine, Wisconsin, by Thomas Kane & Co.). On the east side of the hall connecting the main building to the north wing, next to the vault room, is the book-keeper's office. The room on the west side of this section is furnished as a ladies' study and waiting room. The second floor of the hall connecting the main building to the north wing is a room furnished for the College literary societies, with built in bookcases and a cloak-room. The whole front of the second floor of the main building is devoted to the Drawing Department, with excellent lighting from ten windows, and a brightly lit study for the Professor.

Anderson Hall, 1885 An appropriation of $20,000 was made for the erection of the south wing in 1883, with completion in 1884. At this same time porches were erected on the east face of the building, between the two wings and the central tower. Jacob Winne was awarded the contract for stone work at $6,500; J. A. Nichols of Atchison was awarded the contract for the rest of the building at $10,869.85; McCarthy and Sheahan of Topeka were awarded the contract for completing the steam heating for the south wing at $2,385; Architect E. T. Carr remained in charge of the project. The basement of the south wing contained a model kitchen and dairy, with a sewing room and Lady Superintendent's office on the first floor along with several study rooms. The second floor contained nine classrooms. Usage of the north wing and central portion of the building remained much the same as when they were originally created.

Sewing class in Anderson Hall, ca 1890
"Since the very pleasant change in the rooms for this department, and the additional equipment, making the kitchen laboratory indeed a model one for class work, the increased interest shown by the students has been most pleasing, and with all the facilities now within our reach we could not fail to have a pleasant and satisfactory year." - from Biennial Report, Domestic Department, 1884-1885.

"Sewing room, with six machines, models and pattersn. Kitchen laboratory, with range, cooking and table utensils, and dining room funiture." - from the list of "Means of Illustration" in The Industrialist, Oct. 25, 1884

Chapel stage in Anderson Hall, ca 1890 In 1887, the Board approved plans to extend the chapel and complete the attic. George E. Hopper was awarded the contract for the extension at $2,450. However, he was unable to obtain the bond required and the Committee on Grounds and Buildings assumed responsibility for construction and employed Mr. Hopper to supervise the work to completion for $150. The attic was finished at an expense of $1,000.

"The beautiful rose window for the rear of the Chapel stage, made from designs by Prof. Walters, arrived on Saturday last, and will soon be put in place. The new Chapel - for new it seems, with twenty feet added, new blinds, newly-frescoed walls, and 162 new seats - is coming into shape as fast as a large force of men can bring it." - from The Industrialist, Sept. 3, 1887

Through the years, Anderson Hall has undergone renovation and reconstruction as the building was adapted for differing uses. Some of the significant changes include:

Secretary's office in Anderson Hall, 1892

Anderson Hall has been used for a variety of purposes over the years, some of which include:

As of the year 2000, Anderson Hall remains home for the following offices:


History Index - Anderson Hall
Vertical file - Anderson Hall
Photograph Collection. Subjects - Anderson Hall
Photograph Collection. Subjects - Sewing class
A Walk Through the Campus by Emil Fischer © 1992
1920 Royal Purple
Biennial Report of the Regents and Faculty