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Old Main


In 1839, three years after Texas gained independence, the initial forty-acre site was chosen for the future University of Texas. Live oaks and mesquite trees covered the location referred to as "College Hill".

Over 40 years later, construction began on the Main Building at the center of the forty acre site, in full view of the new State Capitol. Architect F. E. Ruffini of Austin designed this magnificent building in the Victorian-Gothic style. The structure was built in three stages: the west wing was completed in 1883 for The University’s first class of 221 students; the central section in 1891; and finally the east wing in 1899. Texans were extremely proud of this Victorian-Gothic building in North Austin.

old main, with west wing only
entrance hall

The new building was admirably lighted and well ventilated with wide corridors, high rotundas, a 2,000 seat grand auditorium, a library, a chapel, 9 spacious lecture halls, 30 classrooms, and even a dressing room for the ladies’ cloaks and bonnets.



women's studyhall



Below is Dr. Battle's classroom in the classics department and several of the sculpture casts known as the Battle Casts. The William J. Battle collection of plaster casts is currently on display at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at UT Austin.

The Girls Study Hall was even furnished with wicker rocking chairs.
view from window  


It was a proud day indeed, when the announcement was made that the University was ready for us. It was not quite complete, but it seemed wonderful indeed to us, and we felt that every other student in the country would envy us in the possession of such a magnificent building.         -Will L. Vinning, Student in 1884

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Out with the Old Ring Those Bells Once Upon a Time Main The Genius Inside Out In the News

12 May 1999
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