The six new Jayhawk sculptures at the Memorial Union Ascher Plaza are not the first sculptures and landmarks on Jayhawk Boulevard. The Kansan searched through KU Info, KU History and KU Libraries Archives to compile a historical list of sites you see as you walk down Jayhawk Blvd.
CHI OMEGA FOUNTAIN
The Chi Omega Fountain, which sits on the west end of Jayhawk Boulevard, has long been a well-known landmark at the University of Kansas, and is one of six fountains on campus. Construction for the fountain first began in the fall of 1954, and was introduced during a ceremony on April 24, 1955.
The design of the fountain mimics a structure outside of an 18th century house in Northumberland, England. The Chi O sorority is also a reflection of 18th century English manor houses. The fountain cost $11,793.88 in 1955, which equals roughly $110,000 today.
Unlike some, it is legal to swim or walk in the lower part of the Chi O fountain, however any activity on the top of the fountain is not allowed. The fountain holds 8,500 gallons of water, and there is a $50 cleaning charge for detergent in the fountain and a $100 for putting dye in the fountain. A tour brochure called the fountain “an irresistible Mecca for youthful springtime frivolity.”
The World War II Memorial Campanile was built in 1950 to honor 277 students and faculty who died during World War II. Each of their names are engraved on the walls at the base of the 120-foot tower.
The Campanile is made out of Kansas limestone (which gave the University the “rock chalk” chant). The tower holds 53 bells — the largest of which weighs seven tons — that chime every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The tune of the chime is an actual song, called the “Westminster Chime,” and can be sung along with the lyrics “Lord through this hour, Be Thou our guide So, by Thy power No foot shall slide.”
Each spring, the University’s graduating class walks through the Campanile and down the hill for commencement. An old superstition says if you walk completely through the Campanile before graduation, you will not graduate in four years.
Potter Lake, which sits at the base of the Campanile and next to Memorial Stadium, was named after Thomas M. Potter, a Kansas Senator who was a member of the Kansas Board of Regents. While canoeing is not allowed in Potter Lake, fishing is allowed with a valid fishing permit. The lake holds bluegill, catfish, bass, and goldfish.
Potter lake was initially created as a water source for the 84 fire hydrants on campus and was made to hold 4 million gallons of water, however now it only holds about 2.5 million gallons of water. After big wins for Kansas football, such as Kansas' overtime win to Texas in 2016, it is a tradition for fans to throw the goalposts into Potter Lake as a celebration.
Budig Hall/Hoch Auditoria was built in 1925 and was originally intended to be a lecture hall, concert stage, and basketball court. After Allen Fieldhouse was built in 1955, Budig remained as a hall for large lectures and classes.
Originally named just Hoch Auditoria, the building got its name from Edward W. Hoch, the 17th Governor of Kansas. It got the name Budig Hall after a lightning strike on June 15, 1991 burned down all but the limestone facade and lobby area of the building. It was renamed after then-Chancellor Gene Budig who pushed for the reconstruction of the building.
Budig is one of 22 structures on campus made of limestone, and it has three lecture halls, one of which (Budig 120) can hold 1,000 students.
A common misconception on campus is Wescoe Hall was intended to be a parking garage. While the original design proposal had 190 parking spots, it was never meant to be a parking garage but instead a 25-story skyscraper with classrooms and offices named after then-Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe.
At the time of its construction, it would have been the largest building in the entire state of Kansas. When the building received bids for funding in 1967, the cost was almost $1.5 million more than the $5.8 million the University had to fund the project. In March 1968, the University reduced the size of the building to 15 stories, yet still did not have enough money to complete the project. In 1969, the architects made their third proposal for Wescoe: a four-story concrete building.
Intent on finishing the project, Student Senate made the decision to add an additional $7.50 fee per semester for every student to fund the project. With that, Wescoe opened to the University on August 27, 1973 with 60 classrooms, 89 short of what they first intended it to have.
David Awbrey, a student leader at the time Wescoe was being built who advocated for the funding of Wescoe, told the University's Department of History that Wescoe is an “architectural and aesthetic disaster. Every time I am on campus, I feel personally remorseful that I had any part in the construction of the monstrosity.”
In front of Wescoe, on Jayhawk Boulevard facing Strong Hall, is what is known as Wescoe Beach. The beach has multiple concrete structures that provide seating for passersby. Wescoe Beach is a large social space on campus according to Project for Public Spaces, but it is also a space on campus that allows many student groups to table, such as KU Young Dems, KU College Republicans, ministry groups and coalitions running during Student Senate election cycles.
Standing in front of Lippincott Hall are two seven-foot-seven bronze statues of two men. The man on the right is James Woods Green (Uncle Jimmy), the first Dean of the Law School, and the one on the left is law student Alfred C. Alford. Alford was the first University student to be killed in the Spanish-American War. The statue was built after friends of Green and Law School alumni created the Green Memorial Association in order to fight for a statue in his memory.
The association commissioned Daniel Chester French, the same artist who created the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. D.C. French had declined the group’s request at first, but later agreed to make the sculpture after further pleas, and because he had “never seen such love for a man - unless it be in the case of Abraham Lincoln.”
The sculpture was placed outside of the original Green Hall, and when the Law School moved, it was decided that the sculpture would remain in the same spot due to risk factors of moving it.
Old Fraser Hall was first opened in the fall of 1872 and was called the "New Building." It was an impressive building at the time and newspapers compared it to the likes of structures at Harvard University.
The Fort Scott Daily Monitor wrote, “It may be said … that Harvard College has existed more than two hundred and thirty years without having a building equal to this in size or usefulness for the purposes of instruction.” The building went through two name changes before it finally got the name Fraser Hall, after the University’s second Chancellor John Fraser.
In its years serving as a building for classes, commencements, and offices, Fraser showed many signs of damage and structural issues. In the 1950s, Fraser went through renovations after students and faculty reported pieces of falling rock from the building’s exterior.
In February of 1962, Chancellor Wescoe issued a statement saying Fraser would be demolished and replaced due to the issues the building had structurally. This was met with protests across Lawrence, however, after contractors inspected the building, it was apparent that Fraser needed to face demolition.
After 92 years in August 1965, Fraser was demolished. New Fraser opened on Mar. 6, 1967 with two flag pole towers adorning the top as a salute to Old Fraser’s similar towers. The flagpoles are the highest points in Lawrence, and the building sits at an elevation of 1,031 feet, the highest point on Mount Oread. The American Flag and KU banner are flown on the north and south towers of Fraser, unless wind speeds reach 15 mph.
The Memorial Union opened at the east end of Jayhawk Boulevard in 1938. The Union continued to grow, and student groups such as YMCA, YWCA, Student Senate, and KU Info planted themselves in the building.
On Apr. 20, 1970, the Union burned down following protests of the Vietnam War. By August 1970, the damages were almost completely repaired and the Union was running as normal.
Now, the Union has six floors and is a hub for student activities. The Union is home to Student Senate, Student Union Activities, the student radio station KJHK 90.7 FM, among many other student organizations. The Union has undergone construction projects throughout the 2018-19 school year.
The plaza of the Union facing Jayhawk Boulevard required new pavement, and with that came the construction of The Ascher Family Plaza. Its namesake comes from a gracious donation from James J. Ascher Sr. and his wife Mary Ellen.
THE OREAD HOTEL
The Oread Hotel opened in January 2010, replacing the Crossing, a bar which occupied the Oread’s land before it was built and which closed in 2007.
The Crossing, which opened in the 1920s, played several roles throughout its run on campus. In the 1930s and 40s, it was known as the Rock Chalk Cafe and served food to soldiers who lived in nearby military barracks. The Crossing then transformed into a bar in the 1960s and remained as a place famous for its Stop Day Eve parties and pre-games.
The Oread was proposed to occupy the plot of land in 2009, and the hotel boasted The Cave dance club, three restaurants, a fitness center, a spa, and three separate terraces on the second, fifth, and top floors of the hotel. The ninth floor terrace provides unobstructed views of Jayhawk Boulevard and Memorial Stadium as well as much of Lawrence.
The Oread is now a place for visitors to stay and a place for people to stop by before football games to drink a beer or spend time with friends and family.