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On June 20, 1837, the cornerstone was laid for the college "Edifice;" as it was generally known for the first 35 years of its existence, before a crowd estimated at 10,000 people-and at an incredible 20,000 by some-on a cold day marked by rain and snow flurries. Trustee Calvin Fletcher of Indianapolis spoke briefly, but the Rev. Henry B. Bascom, reputedly the greatest orator in the West, gave the main address lasting nearly two hours. Three years later the three-story brick building located on the present site of the Roy O. West Library, but facing north, was in use. Completed in 1842, it cost about $20,000 and was, according to college tradition, designed by a Greencastle architect from Connecticut named Elisha Braman.          


This photograph of the Edifice prior to the
Civil War is the earliest extant photograph
of the campus in the DePauw collection.




The first floor of the original Edifice contained three recitation halls and a large chapel. On the second floor were additional classrooms and on the third floor the library and two large halls for the student literary societies. Several chimneys from the numerous stoves used for heating protruded from the roof, which was also graced by a short tower housing the reportedly very melodious college bell. In 1852 a large clock was installed in the tower's cupola with dials on all four sides. For the times it was truly a magnificent structure and provided more than adequate quarters for all college activities until the erection of East College in the 1870s.





Calvin Fletcher, president of the Indiana State
Bank, also spoke.  An Indianapolis lawyer,
farmer and "man of affairs,"  Fletcher served on
the first board of trustees from 1837-39 and
later became its treasurer (1848-55).  His
son Miles Fletcher, would later teach
at Asbury.




Henry Ward Beecher, a young minister
of the Second Presbyterian Church in
Indianapolis, addressed the literary
societies on the occasion of the first
commencement and the inauguration of
President Simpson in 1840.


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Depauw University e-history | E-mail comments to: archives@depauw.edu


People, Events & Traditions

Cyrus Nutt

The Edifice

Tommy Goodwin

Matthew Simpson

John W. Ray

William C. Larrabee

Rebellion of 1856- 57

Literary Societies

Thomas Bowman

The Civil War

Joseph Tingley

Alexander Martin

The Edifice Fire

Bettie Locke (Hamilton)

East College

Japanese Students