Spring 2018Frank Duran

Old Main Turns 100

Spring 2018Frank Duran
Old Main Turns 100

Old Main was built in 1917 as one of the first buildings on the current UTEP campus after the original campus near Fort Bliss was destroyed by a fire. 

In its early years, Old Main served as a popular gathering spot for various activities on campus. It later housed departments including math, physics, and sociology and anthropology. 

On Oct. 6, 2017, students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered outside the steps of Old Main to celebrate the building’s 100th birthday. 

Throughout the years, Old Main has not only served many purposes but also many students. Generations of graduates can recall a time when they walked Old Main’s halls or recount a memory or two of their experiences in the building. 

Over the span of a century, Old Main has undergone renovations and re-purposing; however, its lasting legacy will continue for many years to come. 

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Above: Two actors reenact the legend of “The Window on the Stair.” The legend describes a love story between two students in the 1920s whose only “meetings” took place at “The Window” of the Old Main Building between classes. The young man took a job as a mining engineer in South America but returned two years later to marry the young woman when she graduated. The two returned together to South America. 

Above, inset: Adding excitement to the day, actors in period costumes gathered at Old Main to help celebrate the building’s 100th birthday, bringing to life the clothing popular at the time the building opened during the first week of December 1917. 

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Middle: After a complete renovation of Old Main in 1996, the black slate chalkboards were replaced with white boards throughout the building, except for one: the chalkboard in the conference room is the original black slate board installed in 1917. 

Bottom: To pay homage to the start of Old Main, photos of the original renderings of the building were displayed at the birthday celebration open house. During a previous renovation of Old Main, workers discovered the original exterior paint color theme as they were sandblasting layers of paint. The decision was made not only to return to the original color scheme for Old Main, but to do the same for other buildings on campus. 

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