Daily Campus History: The many buildings of Storrs all have their own stories

UConn’s Hawley Armory, then and now. Photo courtesy of UConn Special Collections. Edited by Olivia Rusk/The Daily Campus

This week’s article is definitely going to be on the lighter side, as I take a look at some of the buildings that make up the campus we all know and love. 

It’s amazing to think about how the sprawling campus that makes up UConn Storrs today was built so gradually. With help from old Daily Campus articles, as well as the UConn Archives and Special Collections blog, I was able to zero in on a few to spotlight. 

First off, the Willis Nichols Hawley Armory has been a constant at UConn for over a century. Talk of an armory in the paper dates all the way back to 1898, when an editorial in the SAC Lookout stated that “As winter draws near the need of an armory becomes more and more apparent. Under the present circumstances the work of the military company through the winter months is very limited. What we need is a building which will serve the double purpose of Gymnasium and Armory. We hope before another winter that a large Armory and Gymnasium combined, will grace the campus of Storrs Agricultural College.” Coincidentally, within weeks of this editorial being published, Willis Nichols Hawley, who had graduated from the school only months before, died tragically of illness. 16 years later, Storrs would finally have its armory, named after Hawley. At the time of its completion, the armory was the largest building on campus, and was used for many different things over the years. Despite all of the hats it has worn, it has remained remarkably true to its original designation, as it is still principally a military building, now housing the veterans office. 

Whitney Residence Hall, the first building in the area, is located in East Campus alongside other buildings such as Holcomb Hall and Sprague Hall. File photo/The Daily Campus

On the topic of buildings that have kept their main purpose for a long time, East Campus has been a fixture in Storrs from the World War II period onward. The original Whitney building was the first building in the area, but was demolished in the 1930s. The current Whitney was built as a residence hall with the dining hall later that decade. Holcomb Hall has been there since 1922, and while I was unable to find the exact date of Sprague’s construction, there is documentation of the current East setup existing on a UConn map from 1945. 

Fast-forwarding to the 90s, another important addition to campus was Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. The paper specifically recognized the importance of the opening, as they published an entirely separate Special Saturday edition titled “Special Pavilion Edition.” In this edition, the paper published articles exclusively about Gampel, primarily related to sports topics of the day. 

The last building I’d like to cover is a personal one: the Daily Campus Building. Since 1992, the DC has been working out of the  building that currently stands between Buckley Hall and Storrs Center. That’s where the mystery begins. Archived Daily Campus records refer to two different locations, one in the same spot as the current location, and one at 121 North Eagleville Road, as addresses for the paper.  The changeover occurred in the early 1980s, but it is unclear exactly when. 

All in all, the transformation from a few buildings strewn around farmland to an organized campus where each building is designated for a specific purpose is remarkable to track. It makes one wonder: just how different will UConn look in the future? In the last 10 years, Storrs has added a myriad of buildings, including the Student Recreation Center and Werth Tower. Will campus expand outward? Will older buildings be replaced by newer, high-tech ones? Only the future can tell, but one thing is certain, and that’s that the landscape around here will never be static. 

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