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Old Main Collection

Identifier: UOMC

Scope and Contents

The Old Main Collection consists of documents dated 1878 and 1970. The collection contains the items removed from the Old Main time capsule, ashes and bricks from the building, newspapers regarding the fire, a souvenir plate, and a few slides of the building after the fire.


  • Creation: 1878, 1970


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Old Main was the first classroom building constructed on the Colorado Agricultural College Campus. Originally known as the Main Building, it was constructed in 1878. The contract for the building was awarded to Henry C. Baker of Boulder, Colorado and the building was to be constructed for $7,000. The cornerstone was laid on July 27, 1878, and construction commenced even though the Board of Agriculture did not have the funds. After the building was complete, cost overruns placed a number of liens against the building that were not released until the Board went through a lengthy legal battle. Issues with the new building surfaced almost immediately; the lightning rod actually conducted electrical charges to the building, cracks appeared in the west wall, and the gutters were funneling water into the foundation. Additional work and repairs were necessary before the first students arrived in 1879.

The building was originally used for all campus courses, and also included staff offices, the library, and a chapel, as well as housing the university president and his family. An 1889 addition to Old Main included a gymnasium to be used for both athletic pursuits and military drills. A second addition in 1903 expanded the auditorium and added a second gymnasium. For many years Old Main was home to the English and math departments.

On May 8, 1970, a fire broke out in the basement of Old Main. Attributed to arson, the structure was gutted by the fire and was torn down.


9.5 linear feet (2 oversize record cartons, 1 record carton, 1 flat box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



The Old Main Collection contains items removed from the Old Main time capsule as well as photographs and information on the fire that destroyed the building in 1970.


The collection consists of 1 series in 2 oversize record cartons, 1 record carton, 1 flat box, and 1 oversize folder:

Series 1: Old Main ephemera, 1878, 1970 and undated


The Old Main time capsule was transferred to University Archives from the Administration Building in 1976. The ashes of Old Main were transferred in 2015. An oversize photograph was donated to the collection in July 2023 by Greg McGuire.

Related Collections

The University Historic Photograph Collection (UHPC) has many images of Old Main. Some of the images have been digitized and are available in Mountain Scholar.


Processing was completed in May 2015. Materials were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes.

Guide to the Old Main Collection
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Karen Spilman
Copyright 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA