Santa Clara University

University Archives

Our Built Environment:

Changing Spaces at SCU

The Santa Clara University campus has changed dramatically in its 150-year history. The student of the 1850s would be lost on today's campus. He wouldn't recognize the buildings that serve as dormitories, classrooms, libraries, and theaters. The buildings familiar to him, such as the Ship, the Administration Building, or the Science Building, have since been razed and replaced with modern ones. The orchards that once flourished on the grounds of Santa Clara College and in nearby fields now have man-made structures that serve the University and the local community.

Through visual representations of campus space and structures, Our Built Environment: Changing Spaces at SCU, demonstrates for the visitor just how much the campus has changed. With the help of maps, drawings, paintings, postcards, and photographs from the University Archives collections, the viewer can compare the campus of 1851 with the campus of 2001. Birdseye views, hand-drawn maps and panoramic photographs give the viewer a sense of space of the entire campus over time. Contemporary lithographs and photographs of the interiors and exteriors of campus buildings reveal how the buildings were put to use.

Over time, we see how some functions were always provided, but the buildings in which they were provided changed. For instance, what do The Ship, O'Connor Hall, Kenna Hall and Graham Residence Center have in common? All of them served (or still serve) as dormitories at some point in the University's 150-year history. As Mayer Theater celebrates its 25th Anniversary, we reflect on the several buildings that hosted live performances in the past and present: Exhibition Hall (better known as The Ship), Lifeboat Theater, Louis B. Mayer Theater and the Center for the Performing Arts. Through the photographic record displayed here, we discover that the "library" has been housed in Adobe Lodge, Aloysius Varsi Hall, Michel Orradre Library and, for the School of Law, in Edwin Heafey Library.

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