One hundred years ago, Ohio State’s Columbus central campus had a similar footprint to today, with the bulk of central campus occupying the blocks west of High St. between Lane Ave. and 10th Ave. Predictably, there were far fewer buildings on campus and University leadership was in the process of planning what the future of OSU would hold, architecturally. In 1919, University Architect J.N. Bradford drafted a map of the existing campus buildings, and those that were proposed to be developed in the coming years.

The return of students and teachers from World War I and the subsequent increase in enrollment at the University drove, at least in part, the planning of new buildings across campus. While funding issues unfortunately stunted most construction on campus immediately following the war, the planned expansion reflects the growing attendance and influence of universities throughout the country. A century later, it makes for an interesting look at where the University was potentially headed and a comparison to what we have today.

 

Bradford’s proposed campus map, 1919

Central Campus Map, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: contemporary existing buildings on Bradford’s map are filled in black, while the proposed expansions are hatch shaded.

Notable observations:

  • Ohio Stadium, not yet built in 1919, was planned on a fairly undeveloped tract of land near the Olentangy River banks. The RPAC and Physical Activity and Education Services building, on the site of the proposed gymnasium expansion (F on Bradford map), athletic fields, and the Morrill Tower dormitory have brought development right to the stadium.
  • Once occupying Hale Hall, the new Ohio Union building is significantly larger than its initial space. The proposed expansion to Hale adding men’s dormitories did not take place.
  • One of the original and founding focuses of the University, most of the Agricultural and Veterinary colleges’ buildings (8-11 on Bradford map) have since moved west across the Olentangy as OSU has expanded.
  • Starling-Loving Hall, once a sole building (Homeopathic Hospital, 1 on Bradford) has developed into a leading and nationally ranked medical center, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
  • Lazenby Hall and immediately west formerly contained horticultural sciences and greenhouses (5 and 4 on Bradford); these areas are now occupied by the Psychology and Public Health Departments, and the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
  • The Wexner Center for the Arts is built roughly on the site of the campus Armory building (20 on Bradford), and incorporated its medieval turret architecture into part of the design of the building.

Written by Matt McShane.