August 28, 2018

'Building Purdue': University's archives opening exhibition with 150-year look at campus

PMU 1935 construction In this photo from about 1935, construction is underway on the west addition to Purdue Memorial Union. The view looks mainly north with the Union on the right, Heavilon Hall (rear) the North Power Plant smokestack and University Library (left). In the 1950s, University Library was absorbed by the construction of Memorial Center (now known as Stewart Center) and it still stands today. (Purdue University photo/Purdue Archives and Special Collections) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A newly opening exhibition by Purdue Libraries highlights the physical growth and evolution of the university's West Lafayette campus from its establishment in 1869. The exhibition, "Building Purdue: 150 Years of the West Lafayette Campus," is on display through Dec. 14.

Digital archivist Neal Harmeyer, who curated the exhibition, says it shows selected maps, photographs, documents and artifacts that tell the story of campus -- with a focus on its construction -- as Purdue nears its sesquicentennial.

"Prominent topics are the fire of Heavilon Hall that inspired ‘One Brick Higher,’ the creation of the Purdue Memorial Union, the university during and after the world wars, and the ever-changing nature of the campus all Boilermakers call home,” Harmeyer says.

The exhibition, presented by the Archives and Special Collections library, shows how construction both followed and enabled great leaps such as the determination to excel in engineering and agriculture as Purdue pursued its land-grant mission. The display is in Archives and Special Collections, on the fourth floor of the Humanities, Social Science, and Education Library (commonly known as HSSE) at the west end of Stewart Center. Visitors enter through HSSE. Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and it is free and open to the public.

Later this year, Archives and Special Collections will launch the Campus Buildings and Facilities Project, a searchable database documenting the full history of the physical West Lafayette campus.

The exhibition helps Purdue Archives and Special Collections, a division of Purdue Libraries, kick off Purdue University’s Sesquicentennial Campaign, 150 Years of Giant Leaps.

For more information about “Building Purdue: 150 Years of the West Lafayette Campus,” contact Harmeyer at

The Purdue sesquicentennial

The Purdue University Sesquicentennial Campaign, 150 Years of Giant Leaps, is a yearlong celebration of Purdue, its remarkable people, its unique history and its visionary drive to meet the world’s future challenges. From Homecoming 2018 through Homecoming 2019, the Purdue community will spend the year celebrating its unique legacy, which has included giant leaps across every field of endeavor, and further advancing the mission set forth since its founding as a land-grant university in 1869. With the campaign serving as a springboard for a renewed commitment to growth, innovation and discovery, Purdue’s call is simple: Whatever your pursuit, take Giant Leaps. 

Media contact: Teresa Koltzenburg, director of strategic communications, Purdue Libraries, 765-494-0069, 

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