A look at the history of UCCS buildings

May 11, 2015
50 Year Issue

April Wefler
[email protected]

Colorado’s desire to attract Hewlett-Packard to Colorado Springs helped create UCCS.

According to the 2007 Kraemer Family Library Dwire Hall Exhibit, HP co-founder David Packard wanted a University of Colorado campus in Colorado Springs for the continued development of HP.

Cragmor Estate, formerly a tuberculosis sanatorium, was given to the University of Colorado by Cragmor Sanatorium managing director, George Dwire, in June 1964.

The estate became the Colorado Springs Extension Center and was not considered a CU school until a 1972 amendment to the Colorado State Constitution.

Dwire told Governor John Love that he wanted the Cragmor Estate to remain public property instead of becoming a housing development.

A patient of Cragmor Sanatorium for an estimated 20 years, Dwire became secretary and treasurer of the Cragmor Foundation after its reorganization in 1936.

After the 1870s, east coast TB patients were drawn to the west through slogans such as “Go West and Breathe Again!” Sanatorium brochures proclaimed luxurious places of rest, but wooden shacks were often the reality.

Edwin Solly of London, a close friend of General William Jackson Palmer, “envisioned a luxurious ‘Sun Palace,’ similar to the spas of Europe.”

Solly planned, promoted and worked for 30 years to raise funds for the sanatorium, which became an area of 110 acres, 400 feet above town and nestled in the bluff.

Colorado advertised its climate cure and people flocked to the state.

In 1962, Cragmor started to decline and the last of its tuberculosis patients left. The state didn’t have any interest in the building, so Dwire decided to give it to CU.

Cragmor’s 82.5 acres, valued at $1.5 million, was given to the university for a dollar per year.

In 1965, when the university opened, there were three buildings on campus: Cragmor Hall, Main Hall and South Hall.

Cragmor Hall
Dubbed “Crapmore” because of the abundance of toilets and flushing heard through thin walls, Cragmor was an under-furbished building with poor lighting, poor carpeting and no heating and cooling system.

According to Douglas R. McKay’s “UCCS – The First 25 Years,” some students would use the beds on the deserted upper floors of Cragmor, formerly called Manor Hall, for “sleeping and other activities.”

According to a 2004 Communique article, the university planned for Cragmor to be renovated with Main Hall, but withdrawn state funds halted the Cragmor renovation. After $3.5 million, mostly from private donations, the new Cragmor Hall opened in January 2004.

In fall 2012, the Visual and Performing Arts department remembered the building’s history as a sanatorium with a production of a multimedia hyperopera called “The Sun Palace,” which featured student actors and members of community.

Main Hall
Main Hall used to be the tuberculosis clinic. It hosted patients that hoped that the clean, fresh air of Colorado Springs would cure their condition. The state of the building itself, though, was less than optimal when it was acquired by CU.

According to McKay, Main Halls’ “hallways were dark and filthy … its rooms a haven for wasps, birds, bats, and rats.”

The cost to renovate Main Hall was more than the university was willing to pay.

In 1976, fire code violations led to renovations of the doors, corridors and stairways. The campus initially planned to demolish the building in 1982, but the cost was too high.

Main Hall was renovated in April 2002, at a final cost of $9 million.

South Hall
Although campus legend tells that South Hall burned down, long-time English professor Kenneth Pellow said that isn’t exactly true.

“It really only burned a little bit. It burned enough, there was enough structural damage to it that fixing it would have taken so much work that we wouldn’t have been able to retain the grandfather clause,” said Pellow.

To bring South Hall up to modern code would’ve been too expensive and the building was abandoned.

South Hall used to be library and nurse’s dormitory during the sanatorium days. It was later used for the psychology department’s rat labs.

“[The rats] had left behind aromatic memories; the building stunk to high heaven. And it was falling apart,” Pellow said.

Prior to the fire, there was a meeting to discuss what to do about South Hall.

“One of the deans very facetiously offered the suggestion that he knew some guys that he could make a phone call to who could come out, take care of that building for us,” he said.

“It wasn’t about a month or two after that, the darn thing burned, and I’m pretty sure that dean got lots of phone calls from his fellow deans, saying, ‘you surely didn’t call those guys you know, did you?’”

Dwire Hall
Planning for the first major campus structure began in 1967. The building, named Dwire Hall in honor of George Dwire, was created to house labs, classrooms, an auditorium and a library.

The original proposal meant to tear down structures remaining from the sanatorium, creating an entirely new campus, but the plans were halted.

Designed by Lamar Kelsey and Associates and constructed by H.W. Houston Company, construction for Dwire began in August 1970.

During Christmas break of 1971, the library moved into Dwire.

Dwire was meant to be functional, not beautiful. It opened in January 1972 at a final cost of $1,330,900.

By 1982, a layer of clay, called montmorillonite, was found under the foundation of Dwire Hall. It began to cause structural problems, which led to a break in the sewer lines and a wall plaster explosion in a classroom.

Repairs were made from 1985-91. In 1990, under Chancellor Dwayne Nusum, the Joint Budget Committee approved $500,000 to renovate Dwire.

In 1997, a plan was proposed to do a full interior remodel, but it wasn’t until 2006 that renovations began.

The new Dwire Hall was completed in 2007.

Columbine Hall
Columbine Hall was built in 1997 due to a need for classroom space and has never been renovated.

Campus Services Building
The Campus Services building was needed as the campus expanded, according to Mary Rupp, archives librarian. It was created in 1996.

El Pomar Center
In 1965, a campus library was nonexistent. According to McKay, the library consisted of tattered novels from the sanatorium and books from professors’ personal libraries.

The psychology department built up its own library by the early 1970s. 10,000 volumes were contributed to the department from students and faculty.

Construction for a $3.7 million Library- Classroom Building began in 1975. The building was 73,000 square feet, with faculty offices, nine classrooms and an AV/ TV studio.

When it was remodeled in 2001, the Library Building became El Pomar Center. The remodel included the driveway under the library.

The entire back half of the current library used to be the Library Building.

University Center
The UC was built in 1975 and consisted of a small cafeteria seating 200, a lounge for more than 180, a bookstore, an entertainment area, student organization offices, two conference rooms and a pub.

The building was first envisioned at a student Joint Board meeting in November 1970 and was dedicated in April 1977.

The first UC expansion was in 1988 to include a 500-seat gymnasium, what is now Berger Hall. The UC was considered “the living room of campus,” according to McKay.

The UC was expanded in 2001. The area the bookstore is in was the original entrance to library.

Engineering Building
The Engineering Building had several delays. It was dedicated in October 1985 at a cost of $9.2 million.

The building consisted of research facilities, labs, five tiered classrooms, 40 faculty offices, a 4,400 square foot microelectronics class and 10 clean rooms.

Summit Village
Construction of Summit Village happened in two phases, the first in 1996. The housing initially consisted of seven residential halls, among them Monarch, Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail.

The Lodge was built along with Summit Village. In 2013, Copper and Eldora were added to bring the total to nine residential halls.

University Hall
University Hall, which was originally the home of Compassion International, was purchased by the university in 2003 and remodeled for use.

UHall was not part of the Cragmor Estate, but rather was Cragwood property. Beth-El and Theatreworks moved into the building in 2003.

The departments of mechanical and aerospace engineering, network information and space security center and the Lynn Institute, which also moved into UHall, have since been broken up into different colleges.

Osborne Center for Science & Engineering
Originally named the Science & Engineering Building, Osborne Center was renamed in honor of its largest donors, Ed and Mary Osborne, according to a Communique article.

The building opened in 2009.

Recreation Center
The original 54,000 square foot Rec Center was finished in 2007. The building is home to amenities such as a pool, indoor track, basketball courts and exercise room and equipment.

A $16.3 million expansion, currently in progress and expected to be completed during the fall 2015 semester, will add over 47,000 square feet to the building.

Alpine Parking Garage and Field
The $23 million Alpine Parking Garage and Field opened in fall 2014 after delays. The building has over 1,200 parking spots as well as an athletic turf field on the top of the garage.

Centennial Hall
Plans for the Science Building, what is now Centennial Hall, began in November 1977. The building was intended for the chemistry, biology, psychology and foreign language departments.

The building opened in September 1980. It was later renovated with the new name, Centennial Hall, in 2010.

Academic Office Building
The AOB opened in 2014 at a total cost of $16 million and has 110 faculty offices. The construction of this building alleviated some of the overcrowding in the faculty offices on the first floor of Columbine.