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Now & Then
WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT
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Dorms are Born
 
Photo COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF HISTORY & INDUSTRY
Seattle architects Timotheus Josenhans and Norris Allan had a modest $50,000 available to design and construct the first two dormitories on the UW campus. To quote from Charles Gates' "The First Century of the University of Washington," they were built "as ornate as possible for the sum expended." Little has been altered on the exterior of Lewis Hall, although the inside has been remodeled several times since its 1899 construction. And the men's bedrooms have long ago been replaced by offices, most recently for doctoral students and the School of Business Administration.
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spacer Photo PAUL DORPAT
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WHEN THE University of Washington's first dormitories on the new campus were constructed in 1899, they were arranged to give students inspiring views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. Most of the university presidents that UW president Frank Graves canvassed for recommendations on dormitories advised against them, usually on the grounds of hormones: They would be hard to control. A minority, however, saw the spiritual side of students staying on campus. Because students had to endure long and overcrowded trolley rides between the school and the city, there was — both students and regents agreed — "a remarkable lack of college spirit."

Graves estimated that in 1899 there were, at most, accommodations for 30 students in the homes of Brooklyn (the name then for the U District). Graves' hopes that neighborhood churches might set up dorms came to nothing. Truth was, Brooklyn had more cows than citizens, and their free-ranging habits were so annoying that the school fenced them off with barbed wire. When the students moved into their new Lewis (for men) and Clark (for women) halls in January 1900, they had their own cows corralled behind the dorms. The 130 men and women shared a dining room — and the milk — in the basement of the women's dorm.

The president advised his married faculty to follow his example and invite students home so they might "become acquainted with good homes and learn the usages of the best society." But when Graves made an unannounced inspection of the women's dorm while investigating charges of lax discipline, he found their rooms generally "unkempt." The coeds responded by marching around the campus and singing a parody of their president to the tune of "We Kept the Pig in the Parlor."

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.


Cover Story Plant Life Northwest Living Taste Now & Then

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