Exhibit Introduction

An ivy-covered University of Kentucky campus; Photographer: John Mitchell, 1890

An ivy-covered University of Kentucky campus; Photographer: John Mitchell, 1890

It is easy as students at the University of Kentucky to get caught up in the rush of busy schedules, rushing to classes, and worrying about tests and forget about the scenes around you every day as you walk to class. It was not until this year as a senior, when college was winding down for me, that I was able to stop looking at my feet as walked to classes and to look up at all the different buildings that I passed. You do not know every student at UK that you pass in the hallways or even sit across from in class, but you do share something in common with most people that are here: the buildings. Chances are that most people have had at least one class in White Hall Classroom Building, Patterson Office Tower, or Memorial Hall.

When you walk to class you can distinguish three different types of buildings even though they might not all look the same. There are the original red brick and limestone bottoms of the buildings that were first built at UK in the late 1800’s such as the Natural Science Building (now called Miller Hall), the Administration Building, and the Gillis Building. The next phase seemed to be the purely utilitarian buildings built in the 1960 and 70’s such as White Hall Classroom Building, Patterson Office Tower, and many of the dorms such as Blanding and Kirwan Towers whose sole purpose, based on appearance, was to cram as many students as possible in the least amount of space. Then there is the last stage that combines the effective use of space and beauty such as the Business and Economics Building, the William T. Young Library, and the brand new dorms being built today at the site of the old Haggin Hall baseball field. These buildings look open and airy with plenty of light coming in through their many windows.

 

Student canoes on a pond on the site of the present student center; Behind left to right are: Whitehall, Administration, and Gillis buildings, 1900

Student canoes on a pond on the site of the present student center; Behind left to right are: Whitehall, Administration, and Gillis buildings, 1900

Everyone at UK now has shared the same experiences as many people over 100 years ago. We have sat in the same classrooms, in the same buildings, listening to a professor talk to us. These scenes have been diligently recorded by photographers and collected, archived and made available to students by the great work done by the University of Kentucky Libraries. There are thousands of photos available through resources like ExploreUK showing the transformation of the University of Kentucky, not just of the buildings but of the students as well. The next time you walk to class and pass the buildings that make up this University take a few seconds to appreciate them not only for the way they look but for the history, knowing that you are looking at the same thing that many generations before you did as well.

 

-Jim Blackerby, Class of 2013

Exhibit Introduction