Filed Under Education

Morrill Hall

The first building on the University of Nevada, Reno campus housed the entire university's operations upon opening in 1886.

Morrill Hall was the first building on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. A three-story (plus basement) “Second Empire”-style edifice, the building was constructed in 1885-1886 after the relocation of the University of Nevada from Elko to Reno, a process that began in 1884. Relatively few Second Empire-style buildings remain in Reno, making this a rare local example of this particular type of Victorian architecture. The cornerstone was laid on Sept. 12, 1885 and the building was ready for occupancy by March of 1886. Designed by Reno architect M.J. Curtis, Morrill Hall was built for the sum of $13,500 and originally housed the entire State University until the Agricultural Experiment Station (1889) and Stewart Hall (1890) were built. Neither of those remains standing.

Originally, the basement of Morrill Hall was divided into four rooms, with space for the janitor, storage, assay furnaces, quartz crushers, and workshops. The main floor contained the Principal's office (for the head of academics), a reception room, the Board of Regents' room, a library, museum, assayer's office, assaying room, weighing room, lavatory, and gymnasium. On the second floor were a large lecture hall and two classrooms, and on the top floor, two large apartments, a general assembly room, and an armory. All instruction was provided by two professors.

At the time it was built, Nevada was little more than a collection of rough mining camps and railroad towns. The new University hall symbolized the determination of the people of Nevada to provide educational opportunities for themselves and their children. The building was named after U.S. Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont, author of the 1862 Land-Grant College Act that made the founding of the University of Nevada possible.

Morrill Hall was extensively remodeled in the 1970s and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Today it is home to the University's Division of Development and Alumni Relations.

Images

Morrill Hall standing alone
Morrill Hall standing alone The lone State University building is surrounded by pastures and alfalfa fields in a view looking northeast. The shed seen beside the building sheltered students' horses, which they rode to school before motor vehicles were prevalent. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1886
Cadets Corps
Cadets Corps ROTC Cadet Corps formation in front of Morrill Hall in the post arms position, 1892. Stewart Hall and the Agricultural Experiment Station flank Morrill Hall. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1892
Entrance gates
Entrance gates Wrought iron gates and a stone wall flanked the grand University entrance, with Morrill Hall in the background. The gates were a gift to the university from the classes of 1898 and 1901. By 1921, for safety and improved access, the gates were removed, the pillars moved back, and the road paved. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1903
Horses and buggies
Horses and buggies A large crowd of people with their horses and buggies gather outside of Morrill Hall in 1898. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1898
Commencement Day
Commencement Day Commencement Day Procession on the sidewalk in front of Morrill Hall and the President's House, ca. 1908. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1908
Drawing class
Drawing class Students of the Normal School in a drawing class in front of Morrill Hall, 1908. The President's House and Stewart Hall are visible behind them. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1908
Gateway to the university
Gateway to the university A colored postcard from 1910 titled, "Gateway, University of Nevada, Reno." Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1910
Cane Rush
Cane Rush The 1911 Cane Rush took place in front of Morrill and Stewart Halls. The Cane Rush was an annual homecoming competition between the freshman and sophomore classes where the classes would collide and combat each other with canes to decide who would face the humiliation of wearing small blue beanies for the rest of the school year. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1911
Lake Street entrance
Lake Street entrance The Lake Street entrance to campus, with Morrill Hall and Hatch Hall (to the left), 1920. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1920
Morrill Hall office
Morrill Hall office Alice Terry and an unidentified co-worker in their office in Morrill Hall in 1932. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1932
Automobiles on campus
Automobiles on campus With the arrival of cars on campus, Morrill Hall gained a small parking lot for convenient access. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1932
Interior staircase
Interior staircase The graceful lines of the staircase banister. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Ted Cook Date: 2003
A new roof
A new roof Extensive remodeling at the turn of Morrill Hall's second century included a newly-tiled roof. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Matt Thielan Date: 2006
Morrill Hall in 2016
Morrill Hall in 2016 A view of the front of Morrill Hall, which still stands at the southern entrance to campus, just north of Ninth Street. Source: University of Nevada, Reno Communications Office Date: 2016
Preserved and Restored
Preserved and Restored Morrill Hall was remodeled and the structure reinforced to better withstand earthquakes. Creator: Mercedes de la Garza

Location

Metadata

Amanda Buell and Reno Historical Team, “Morrill Hall,” Reno Historical, accessed June 14, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/71.