Laura Thomas

Instructor, Senior Teaching Appointment

As Homecoming 2019 arrived on campus in October, the university officially kicked off its 150th birthday celebration. And as English at CSU observes its 80th year as a standalone department, we visit our homes on campus throughout the years.

Our first home—of English classes and later the department—was Old Main, one of the earliest buildings constructed on campus, located on what became known as the Oval. We cannot physically visit the legendary building because was lost to a still-unsolved arson on May 8, 1970.

Old Main building historical photo
Copy negative of an undated image of Old Main filed in Historical Files.

The English department, however, had moved by then from Old Main to the Liberal Arts Building, which opened in September 1963. Not only was the department’s home newly constructed, but it certainly must have been a welcome respite from the noise of passing trains and the proximity of the college farm. As faculty member R.J. Wattles said of her working conditions, “the smell of beef pulp was overwhelming….We had to have the windows open. We wore our coats and opened the windows.”

Historical photo of classroom teacher and students
Historical photo of classroom, teacher and students

In 1974, the Liberal Arts building was renamed to honor Willard O. Eddy. Eddy was hired in 1937 and spent 5 decades teaching at CSU. His legacy includes starting an Honors Colloquium, the precursor of the University Honors Program, and helping establish the graduate program in English. Over his long career, he taught—and created—courses in English and Philosophy, won numerous teaching awards, and chaired the Philosophy department.

Willard Eddy died in 1993 at 85. To honor his passing, the U.S. flag was flown at half-mast on campus and a moment of silence was observed at a Rams basketball game that night. In 1994, the building was renamed Willard O. Eddy Hall, after some remodeling.

Eddy building flooded
The Willard O. Eddy building damaged by 100-year flood. (CSU Source photo)

Not long after, Eddy Hall was among the campus buildings to damaged by a 100-year flood that washed over campus in July 1997. Particularly hard-hit were the faculty offices of the Philosophy and Foreign Languages departments housed in the basement.

Flood clean-up and recovery moved English computer classrooms from the second floor to the basement, where classrooms replaced offices. But even those significant refurbishments look small next to the major renovation project undertaken from 2014-2015.

Guided by then College of Liberal Arts associate dean and former English chair Bruce Ronda, the multi-million dollar revitalization upgraded mechanical systems, and freshened the building inside and out. The English department spent a year housed at opposite ends of campus, with the administrative team in Behavioral Sciences and faculty in Ingersoll. We celebrated our return to Eddy with a Homecoming Open House on Oct. 15, 2015.

ribbon cutting for remodeled Eddy Hall
Ribbon cutting for remodeled Eddy Hall
Willard O. Eddy Hall dedication pamphlet and invitation
Willard O. Eddy Hall dedication pamphlet and invitation

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