Waller Hall

On a fall trip to Oregon, we stopped by my alma mater: Willamette University. The campus was just as gorgeous as I remembered, and Snickers got lots of attention from all the youngins.

But it’s got a pretty special building, too. Founded in 1842, Willamette University is the oldest college in the Western United States, so it makes sense that its Waller Hall is the oldest higher-ed building west of the Mississippi still in use.

Built in 1867 in the Renaissance style of architecture, it opened as University Hall. Over the years, its been gutted by fire twice, with its interiors being rebuilt both times. The building cost about $40,000 to build, and was first used for classrooms, library, parlors, recreation rooms and physical education in the attic. Soon after, it also hosted chapel services and temporary housing for students.

After an 1891 fire, it was reconstructed with a Mansard roof (swoon!). But another fire in 1919 during the school’s holiday break completely destroying all but its brick walls.

In fairly recent years, it has gone through two major renovation/repair projects. One, from 1987 to 1989, cost $2.26 million, while a 2005 reno saw another $1.3 million go into energy-efficient updates, leak repairs and more.

Waller Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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