Mike D. made it to Batcheller Hall Thursday just before the mid-Valley snow dump and wrote up this post on his adventure!
The Mines Building, as it was originally known, was completed for the beginning of the school year, 1913. A century ago, the OAC campus was quite different from today. As seen in this image of the newly constructed Mines Building, the grand structure stood alone, without the lush canopy of trees and landscaping we see today. With the addition of the physics building (now Covell Hall) in 1928 and Dearborn Hall twenty years later in 1948, the footprint of the Mines Building would morph into kind of a “Frankenhall” on Campus Way.
The OAC School of Mines had a rather short, but important place in OSU history. Mines courses were first taught at Oregon Agricultural College in 1900. In 1913 the state legislature authorized the establishment of the School of Mines at OAC. Money was also authorized for the Oregon Bureau of Mines, which was placed under the School’s dean. The School of Mines consisted of four departments — Mining Engineering, Ceramic Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Geology. As part of cutbacks throughout higher education in Oregon, the school was closed in 1932. Mining related courses continued to be taught in the Schools of Science and Engineering.
The Oregon State College Catalog from 1941 provided descriptions of the campus buildings for prospective students, so even though the School of Mines had been discontinued ten years earlier, there was still a presence of mining engineering in the old building. The catalog gave a great description of the building and its uses
65 by 81 feet in dimensions … a four-story building, constructed of brick, trimmed with stone, and similar in type to all the newer buildings on the campus. The basement laboratories are devoted to Physics research and to ore dressing under the Department of Mining Engineering. The latter department also has an Assay Laboratory on the first floor. The major portion of the first floor serves the Department of Mechanical Engineering, with the office of the head of that department, a lecture room, and a laboratory for fuels and lubricants. The second floor contains offices and recitation rooms for the joint use of Engineering and Physics, and the fourth floor houses Aeronautical Engineering offices, class rooms, and a drafting room.
The Mines Building has been a campus landmark since it was built, but when KOAC Radio (which is another great OSU history story that we’ve written about before on this blog) placed their transmitter antenna on the roof of Batcheller in 1926, the landmark building became an even more distinctive part of our campus skyline!
In 1965, the Mines Building was officially renamed Batcheller Hall, to honor James H. Batcheller, former dean of the OAC School of Mines. Dr. Batcheller came to OAC in 1919 as an associate professor. He was promoted to head of the School of Mines in 1928. Known as “Gentleman Jim”, he assisted in the development of the college’s Honor System and served as Faculty Advisor for the schools Honor Committee.
The celebration for Batcheller’s 100th birthday party in the lobby of the old building was attended by students and staff who sang a round of “Happy Birthday” led by OSU Choir members. Megan Gray, Intern for the School of Engineering, contacted SCARC for research assistance in preparing historical posters to highlight the story of the Mines Building. She proved to be a formidable researcher, utilizing stories and images from our collections to bring this century old building to life for today’s students.
With the approaching 150th Anniversary of the founding of Oregon State, the history of our institution and its famous people will be prominently displayed. Centennials such as the one at Batcheller Hall (1913), as well as Strand Agriculture Hall (1909-1913), Gilkey Hall (1912), and many more over the next few years will be significant events in highlighting Beaver Pride! Next year, we will celebrate the 100th Birthday of another iconic building on campus, Home Economics (now Milam Hall), which holds a special place in the hearts of students in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion students…