CSU Archives and Special Collections

CSU Buildings and Grounds History

A history of CSU's building and grounds from 1870 to the present.

Aggie "A", 1923-

A line of students are moving up to the "A" on a foothill to paint it. Cars are at the bottom of the hill.Painting the "A", 1924

 

From CSU's Sense of Place:  A Campus History of Colorado's Land-Grant University, by James E. Hansen, Gordon A. Hazard, and Linda M. Meyer.  Fort Collins, CO:  Colorado State University, 2018.

Architects – Professor Oliver Pennock and his Civil Engineering students

Builders – Aggie students

This massive symbol of the Aggies was originally designed by Civil Engineering Professor Oliver Pennock and his students.  A large contingent of Aggie students actually built the “A” on December 12, 1923.  The annual painting the “A” white began as a tradition in 1924 only after the emblem had been enlarged and slightly redesigned on September 19, 1924.  The dimensions of the “A” were expanded to its current size of 450 feet high by 210 feet wide to make it look better from the Main Campus and the city.

In October 1940, the proposal was made to run a high power electric line out to the base of the “A” and install electric lights at five foot intervals around the outline of the “A”.  It would have automatic controls that would light it at night and turn off the power during the day.  The Fort Collins Junior Chamber of Commerce would provide half the money needed if the students would provide the other half.  A student vote was taken on October 18, 1940 which passed with a 12-1 margin.  To finance the students’ half of the cost, fifteen cents of the four-dollar yearbook fee would begin being moved to the “lighting account” at the beginning of the 1941-42 school year.  Other money would come from a portion of the activity fees charged to the students.  After five semesters, it was estimated enough money would be available to start work on the project.  The entry of the United States into World War Two on December 8, 1941 appears to have ended this proposed project.

In January 1964 there was a vote by the students to change the design to either a “C” or “Colorado State University”.  Despite this, the traditional design was never changed.  In the years that followed, an occasional “letter to the editor” in the Rocky Mountain Collegian newspaper would call for its removal due to ecological concerns or simply that the writer felt the letter “A” was no longer valid.

In the summer of 1995 it became listed on the Colorado State Register of Historical Properties.  Now firmly embraced as an important part of school history, the maintenance of the “A” continues as a beloved tradition today. Thanks to the Student Alumni Connection, the current class of freshman students, the College Agricultural Sciences, freshman members of the CSU Ram Football Team, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, the “A” gets a fresh coat of paint each year.

The painted “A” serves as an aerial landmark that can be seen by pilots as far as 60 miles away.  Each summer, as a part of Ram Welcome, freshman students hike to the “A” and leave a small white pebble as a symbol of the impact she/he will have on the University  The “A” is painted with non-toxic white paint that is checked and deemed environmentally sound by CSU's Environmental Health Services.

The painted “A” stands for Aggie, one of the former nicknames for the University. The land used to construct the ‘A’ was leased to CSU until 2022 for $1 by the Robert Garibaldi Maxwell (1860-1955) family.  The City of Fort Collins Parks and Recreation now administers the land.  It is listed on the State Register of Historic Properties by the Colorado State Historical Society.

 

Sources by Gordon Hazard

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 17, 1922, page 2, vol. XXXII, number 10.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, December 7, 1923, page 1, col. 1-2, vol. XXXIII, number 26.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, December 11, 1923, pages 1 and 4, vol. XXXIII, number 27.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, December 14, 1923, page 1, col. 1, vol. XXXIII, number 28.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, December 22, 1923, page 269, vol. Jan. 1917 – Aug. 1930.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, February 15, 1924, page 1, col. 7, vol. XXXIII, number 41.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, May 28, 1924, page 3, vol. XXXIII, number 67.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 19, 1924, pages 1 and 4, vol. XXXIV, number 5.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 23, 1924, page 1, vol. XXXIV, number 6.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 26, 1924, page 1, vol. XXXIV, number 7.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 30, 1924, page 1, vol. XXXIV, number 8.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, March 21, 1925, page 3, vol. XXXIV, number 50.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, November 25, 1929, page 547.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 26, 1932, page 1, col. 4, vol. XLII, number 8.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, November 2, 1939, page 5, col. 6, vol. XLIX, number 9.

The Colorado State College Alumnus, January 1940, page 1, vol. 20, number 3.

The Colorado State College Alumnus, May 1940, page 1, vol. 20, number 7.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 10, 1940, pages 1 and 2, vol. L, number 6.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 17, 1940, page 5, vol. L, number 7.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 24, 1940, page 1, vol. L, number 8.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, January 16, 1941, page 1, vol. L, number 18.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, April 17, 1941, page 1, col. 6, vol. L, number 30.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 18, 1941, page 1, col. 6, vol. LI, number 2.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 22, 1942, page 1, col. 1-2, vol. LII, number 7.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 21, 1943, pages 1 and 3, col. 2, vol. LIII, number 8.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 28, 1943, page 1, col. 5, vol. LIII, number 9. 

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 5, 1944, page 1, vol. LIV, number 5.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, May 23, 1946, page 1, col. 5, vol. LV, number 29.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, June 14, 1947, page 230.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 24, 1947, page 1, vol. LVII, number 4.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 15, 1948, page 1, vol. LVIII, number 4.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 19, 1951, page 20, Vol. LXI, number 5.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 20, 1954, page 2, vol. LXIV, number 1.

1956 Silver Spruce yearbook, page 14.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 19, 1956, page 1, vol. LXV, number 9.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, April 15, 1958, page 1, vol. LXVI, number 46.

CSU Collegian, May 17, 1963, page 5, vol. LXXI, number 109.

CSU Collegian, May 21, 1963, page 3, vol. LXXI, number 110.

CSU Collegian Homecoming Section, November 11, 1966, page 9, vol. LXXV, number 35.

CSU Collegian, October 11, 1967, page 6, vol. LXXVI, number 12.

CSU Collegian, November 19, 1970, page 5, vol. LXXIX, number 42.

CSU Collegian, November 20, 1970, page 7, vol. LXXIX, number 43.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 23, 1974, page 6, vol. LXXXIII, number 34.

“A History of Colorado State University 1870 – 1974”, by James E. Hansen II, 1974.

“Democracy’s College in the Centennial State – A History of Colorado State University” by James E. Hansen II, 1977, pp. 269, 278-279.

The CSU Alumnus, July – September 1978, page 5, vol. 54, number 3.

The Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 24, 1980, page 9, vol. LXXXIX, number 13.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, November 17, 1982, pages 21 and 22, vol. XCI, number 64.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, November 19, 1982, page 5, vol. XCI, number 66.

Colorado State University Alumnus Quarterly, Fall 1987, pages 13 and 16, vol. 63, number 3, page 13.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 11, 1987, page 13, vol. 96, number 19.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 16, 1987, page 13, vol. 96, number 22.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 17, 1987, page 1, vol. 96, number 23.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 21, 1987, page 1, vol. 96, number 25.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, Mail-out Issue, July 1989, pages 3 and 5, vol. 98, number 2.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, April 20, 1990, page 3, vol. 98, number 144.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 25, 1990, page 4, vol. 99, number 31.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 27, 1995, Special Homecoming Issue, pages 2 and 13, vol. 104, number 33.

Comment, September 28, 1995, page 4, vol. 26, number 6.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 19, 1996, page 1, vol. 105, issue 26.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 19, 1997, page 1, vol. 106, issue 19

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 22, 1997, page 1, vol. 106, issue 41.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 25, 1998, page 1, vol. 107, number 25.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 24, 2003, page 9, vol. 112, number 23.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 3, 2003, page 1, vol. 112, number 31.

“Democracy’s University – A History of Colorado State University 1970 – 2003” by James E. Hansen II, 2007, pp. 15, 17, 377.

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