When the World Came to Campus, 1909

Campus in and before 1909

On June 16, 1906, history professor Edmond Meany proposed to the Board of Regents that the University of Washington campus be used as the site of the AYP. The campus at that time was 250 acres of mainly unplanned forest and contained only seven permanent buildings. One author called it “a wild natural park with romantic meandering paths and a clearing for an athletic field of sorts.” The main buildings were Denny Hall (Administration), Parrington (Science) Hall, the Observatory, the Gymnasium, and two dormitories, Lewis and Clark Halls. The 1908 yearbook, the Tyee, included a satirical photographic essay of makeshift additions and repairs to Denny Hall titled “Washington's Beautiful Buildings.”

  • In 1909 the University faculty numbered 53, plus 29 instructors and 9 lecturers.
  • The 1908-1909 class included approximately 1,500 students.
  • There were 38,061 bound volumes in the library.
  • Tuition was free to all citizens of Washington State.
  • Room and board in the dormitories was furnished at cost, about $17.50 a month.
  • Clubs included Forest, Mozart, and Political Science Clubs, and the Lincoln Literary Society.

Students at the time held an annual “campus day” to help with the upkeep of the campus grounds around the buildings clustered at the north end of the campus. Professor Meany organized and led the Campus Day celebrations. In 1907, he sent a letter to the AYP landscape architect, John Charles Olmsted, requesting support for the Day.

14 April 1907
Ans'd 17th JCO
no copy kept

Mr. J.C. Olmsted
5th Floor, Denny Building

My dear sir:

We are trying to establish a custom that will, I hope, develop into a true college tradition. On next Friday we will celebrate the Fourth Annual Campus Day. All the students and professors put on old clothes and devote the whole day to the work of beautifying the campus. We do not aim to destroy any of the natural beauty but we do try to make it more accessible by cutting paths, building rustic seats and clearing up trash and debris. I wish to encourage the workers by words of comment from men who count. Will you please send me a letter addressed to the Faculty and Students of the University Washington giving your opinion of such a custom?

Yours faithfully
Edmond S. Meany

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