CSU Archives and Special Collections

CSU Buildings and Grounds History

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

L. L. Gibbons Building / Geology Building / New Electrical Engineering Building / Zoology – Entomology Building / Electrical Engineering Building / Central Heating Plant, 1903-

A two-story hip-roofed stone building featuring a tall chimney in the front.

Entomology Building, undated

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 – Gough, F. B. of Denver (1902 planned the connection of the Central Heating and Electrical Power to the existing buildings), Harlan Thomas (1903), Eugene G. Groves (1929 and 1947 additions)

Builders – William Metcalfe of Fort Collins (1903), C. E. Walker Construction Company of Denver (1929 addition)

850 Oval Drive

During the first forty-five years, each heated building on the CAC campus had its own coal-fired furnace that needed constant attention by a building “fireman” to stay working and be maintained.  It was very labor-intensive to haul coal in and remove the ashes.  In September 1902, the State Board of Agriculture appropriated $3500 to build a new building to house the newly formed Electrical Engineering Department and a Central Heating Plant.

Designed by architect Harlan Thomas using the “Italianate” style of architecture, it was built on the lowest part of the campus on the west side of the railroad tracks. A railroad spur was built to allow coal cars access to the building to drop their coal into its basement storage bins.  A large smokestack on the west side of the building was constructed as part of the original building to vent the coal-fired boilers about to be installed.  This building featured the first use of light-colored sandstone on a campus building.  The new building was accepted by the State Board of Agriculture in July 1903 from its builder, Mr. William Metcalfe.  It opened as the “Electrical Engineering Building” and had cost $10,000 to build.

The necessary installation of underground steam and return water pipes to connect the existing campus buildings to this new “Central Heating Plant” was cost prohibitive and never took place.  Thus the building never served one of its original purposes.  It would be thirteen more years before a working central heating plant system would be built on the campus.  There was talk about installing electrical generating equipment in the new “Electrical Engineering Building” to supply the campus with electricity.  It was decided that connecting to the electric power system of the City of Fort Collins would be a better and more cost effective option.  Again, the building never served one of its original purposes.

In 1906, the structure was outfitted for work in zoology and entomology and eventually became known as the “Entomology Building”.  It was during this time the building housed the College Museum.  About 1914, a separate Entomology Laboratory structure was built on the lawn on the west side of the building.  According to campus maps and photographs, this wood-framed building/greenhouse appears to have stood until the summer of 1958.

In the summer of 1929, a single-story, 40’ x 80’ north wing was added. On the orders of President Lory, a 15-foot tall Englemann or “Silver” spruce tree (Picea engelmannii) was dug by hand by a crew of workmen and replanted at the north end of the new Library building across the Oval as the site for this first addition was being prepared.  This replanting work was time consuming and expensive but was considered to be the right thing to do by Dr. Lory.  This tree appears to still be standing.

Being on the east side of the Oval and the lowest place on the campus, this building was inundated with 5’ of water during the flood that hit campus on September 2, 1938 after a period of very heavy rain.  The College Museum suffered an estimated $10,000 in damage and lost many valuable stuffed animals and birds that had been on display.  When the Department of Entomology and Zoology moved over to the new Agricultural Building in March of 1940, scaled-back museum operations were moved there too.

During the summer of 1940, the building was remodeled for the return of the Department of Electrical Engineering.  The campus PBX telephone switchboard was relocated to the second floor at that time. For the next 18 years, the structure became known as the “New Electrical Engineering Building”.   The building that became known as Spruce Hall in 1954 carried the name “Old Electrical Engineering Building” for several years (see #4).  This caused some confusion to people new to the Aggie campus.

The second floor of that north wing was added in 1947.  That addition had been planned in 1939, but had to wait until the end of the war to be built.  These additions were designed by architect Eugene G. Groves who used the “20th Century Vernacular” design.  The C. E. Walker Construction Company of Denver was the builder. The building was again inundated with water from the flood of August 1951.

The name of “Geology Building” was acquired in 1958 as the Electrical Engineers moved to the new Engineering-Physics Building and the Department of Geology moved in.  On August 8, 1980, it was renamed the “L L. Gibbons Building” to honor the retired former Head of the Department of Industrial Sciences, Professor Leslie L. Gibbons.  At that time, the building was partly being used by the Department of Industrial Sciences that Dr. Gibbons had lead from 1958 until he retired in 1970.  Dr. Gibbons came to the College in 1947.

In August 2007, the building was rededicated for “Les” Gibbons with a new plaque to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the July 28, 1997 flood and a replacement oil painting of Professor Gibbons lost the night of that flood.  The “L. L. Gibbons Building” now houses the offices for the faculty and staff of the College of Health and Human Sciences.

Sources by Gordon Hazard

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, August 29, 1884, page 196.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, June 5, 1896, page 522.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, September 24, 1902, pages 684 and 687.

“24th Annual Register of the Officers and Students of the State Agricultural College, Fort Collins, Colorado 1902-1903”, page 30.

Fort Collins Courier, October 1, 1902, page 1.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 20, 1902, pages 8 and 11, vol. XII, number 2.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, November 17, 1902, page 9, vol. XII, number 4.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, December 11, 1902, page 696.

24th Annual Report of the State Board of Agriculture and the State Agricultural College, 15th Annual Report of the Agricultural Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado 1902, page 20.

“Fort Collins City Directory, 1902”, page 89.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, January 5, 1903, pages 4 - 6, vol. XII, number 7.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, June 4, 1903, page 715.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, July 24, 1903, page 720.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, December 25, 1903, page 6, vol. XIII, number 5.

“26th Annual Register of the Officers and Students of the Colorado State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts for 1904-05, Fort Collins, Colorado”, pages 33 and 34.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, February 26, 1904, page 8, vol. XIII, number 8.

“Map of the College Grounds – 1904”, by Ralph L. Parshall.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, June 3, 1904, page 763.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, August 2, 1904, page 766.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, December 2, 1904, page 4, vol. XIV, number 5.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, December 14, 1904, page 777.

“The State Agricultural College, Fort Collins, Colorado, Catalogue and Prospectus – 1905-06”, pp. 33- 34, LD1146, .C6, 1903/04 – 1907/08, Archive.

Sanford Insurance Map, March 1906.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, June 9, 1905, page 10.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, June 30, 1906, page 14.

“27th Annual Register of the Officers and Students of the Colorado State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts for 1906-07, Fort Collins, Colorado”, pages 33 and 34.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 15, 1906, page 10, col. 1, vol. XVI, number 2.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, April 11, 1907, pages 102-103.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, September 30, 1909, page 135, vol. Dec. 1905 - Dec. 1916.

“30th Annual Register of the Officers and Students of the Colorado Agricultural College Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Prospectus for 1909-1910”, Series IX, Number 1, pages 32-33.

“34th Annual Register of the Officers and Students of the Colorado Agricultural College Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Prospectus for 1913-1914”, Series XIII, Number 1, page 18.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, December 9, 1913, page 1, col. 5, vol. XXIII, number 14.

C.A.C. Alumnus, May 1919, pages 1and 4, vol. 1, number 1.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 21, 1923, pages 1 and 4, col. 3, vol. XXXIII, number 5.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, February 15, 1924, page 1, col. 6-7, vol. XXXIII, number 41.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, April 15, 1927, page 28.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 19, 1927, page 1, vol. XXXVII, number 6.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, June 22, 1929, page 527.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, July 20, 1929, page 531.

C.A.C. Alumnus, September 1929, page 4, vol. 10, number 5.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 18, 1929, page 1, col. 7, vol. XXXIX, number 1.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, December 28, 1929, page 553.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, February 1, 1933, page 4, col. 6-7, vol. XLII, number 21.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 14, 1936, page 1, col. 2 and 4, vol. XLVI, number 6.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 9, 1938, page 1, vol. XLVIII, number 1.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 6, 1938, page 6, col. 1, vol. XL, number 5.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, March 7, 1940, page 1, vol. XLIX, number 24.

State Board of Agriculture Executive Committee Minutes, July 24, 1940, page 359, vol. Sept. 1930 – Aug. 1940.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 6, 1940, page 1-2, vol. L, number 1.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, May 1, 1941, page 5, col. 2, vol. L, number 32.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, May 22, 1941, page 1, col. 6, vol. L, number 35.

The Colorado State College Alumnus, December 1943 – January 1944, page 2, vol. XXV, number 5.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, January 6, 1944, page 4, col. 3, vol. LIII, number 17.

“Colorado A & M College 33rd Annual Summer Session 1945”, map shows building as the “Electrical Engineering Building”, LD1146.C61 1945-1954 Archive.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, January 18, 1946, page 59.

Fort Collins Coloradoan, April 14, 1946, page 1, col. 2.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, May 8, 1946, page 105.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, October 3, 1947, page 1, vol. LVII, number 1.

The Colorado State College Alumnus, September - October 1947, pages 2, 7-8, vol. XXVI, number 14.

Colorado A&M News, August 1951, page 2, vol. 6, number 2.

“Long Range Development Program”, Report to the Colorado State Planning Commission, March 1952, pages 12, 18 and campus maps, LD1145.8, A452, 1952, Archive.

1953 Silver Spruce Yearbook photo, page 129.

The Colorado Aggie Alumnus, September - October 1955, pages 6-7, vol. 31, number 5.

The Colorado Aggie Alumnus, September - October 1960, page 8, vol. 36, number 4.

Colorado State University Collegian, October 9, 1962, page 1, vol. LXXI, number 10.

Colorado State University Collegian, February 11, 1966, page 1, vol. LXXIV, number 85.

CSU Collegian, December 7, 1967, page 15, vol. LXXVI, number 41.

“History of Zoology and Entomology at Colorado State University 1877 – 1972” by O. Wilford Olsen, 1973.

“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, p. 200.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, February 29, 1980, page 5-1.

CSU Comments, August 28, 1980, page 1, vol. 11, number 2.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, October 11, 1994, 1-8a-z 1-1u-w.

State Board of Agriculture Minutes, May 2, 1995, 1-12a-aa,1-1u-v.

 

Rocky Mountain Collegian, May 5, 1995, page 1, vol. 103, number 161.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, January 25, 1996, page 1, vol. 104, issue 86.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, August 22, 1997, page 6, vol. 106, issue 1.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, August 25, 1997, page 14, vol. 106, issue 2.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, September 2, 1997, page 3, vol. 106, issue 6.

Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, at https://www.historycolorado.org/architects-colorado-biographical-series.   

(http://www.chhs.colostate.edu/News/Item/?ID=489, (link now broken).  Story by Gretchen Gerding of the rededication of the building on tenth anniversary of flood, August 20, 2007.  Over the summer, one of the many highlights in the College of Applied Human Sciences was the celebration of the rededication of the L.L. Gibbons Building, and the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the catastrophic flood of 1997. Before the flood, there was an oil portrait of Leslie L. Gibbons, the building namesake, hanging in the entryway of this building. The portrait was destroyed, and the Dean’s Office in the College of Applied Human Sciences, located on the first floor at that time, suffered heavy damage. At the building rededication, a plaque was unveiled honoring the building namesake, Les Gibbons.  Dean April Mason led the celebration, which took place on the first floor of the L.L. Gibbons Building. Some very special people attended the event to help celebrate –the family members of Les Gibbons, including Les’s children Myrna Packard, Pat Doughty, and Bruce Gibbons. In total over 20 family members were able to attend the ceremony.  Mason said, “It was indeed an honor to meet so many members of the Gibbons family. They traveled from near and far to be part of this historic event. It’s obvious that their father and grandfather was a special person, and that feeling will forever be part of our College’s legacy too. Whenever we walk into the Gibbons Building, it means more than bricks and mortar; it represents a warm place in all our hearts because of Les Gibbons and his family.”   Speakers at the event included Kevin Oltjenbruns, emeritus professor, associate dean, and vice provost, who spoke about her role in the flood recovery for the College. Steve Jaouen, faculty member in Construction Management, Rodney Anderson, emeritus professor, and Bruce Gibbons spoke of their special memories of Les Gibbons.  The L.L. Gibbons Building rededication coincided with the completion of a year long remodel of the College of Applied Human Sciences Dean’s Office. The new foyer and entrance on the first floor now contains a display of pictures and historical materials from Les Gibbons donated by his colleague Rodney Anderson.  Les Gibbons was born in 1907 in Michigan, and his family moved to Lamar, Colorado when he was ten years old. He received both his BS and MS degrees from Colorado A&M University, now CSU. He joined Colorado State in 1949 as a professor after teaching Vocational Agriculture for 17 years. His various positions included school principal, superintendent, and teaching pre-flight training to high school students during World War II.  In 1958, he was named department head of Industrial Arts at Colorado State, a position he held for 11 years. Under his leadership, the name was changed to the Department of Industrial Sciences (today the Department of Construction Management), to accommodate the majors of Industrial Construction Management, Vocational Agriculture, and Manufacturing. He retired in 1970, after receiving many honors, including the first Distinguished Service Award given by the Colorado State Faculty in 1955, and being named to the Colorado Vocational Education Hall of Fame.   There are two scholarships at CSU named to honor Les Gibbons. The L.L. Gibbons Fellowship was established by his family, colleagues, and students in honor of him and is awarded to students pursuing teacher licensure in Adult Technical Education or Trade and Industrial Education. The Les Gibbons Industrial Arts Club Scholarship is housed in the College of Engineering which has a new technology and engineering teacher education program.  Les Gibbons’ daughter Pat Doughty said, “The plaque of our father is a wonderful tribute to his memory and accomplishments. It is nice to know it will hang in the building for all to see…We are grateful to the College of Applied Human Sciences and CSU for remodeling and improving the building, leading to the opportunity for the rededication.”)

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