When Urbana was chosen as the site of the Illinois Industrial University (now the University of Illinois) in 1867, one of the advantages it had over other potential locations was the Urbana and Champaign Institute, a brand-new, five-story, empty school building that was ready for the University’s immediate use. This building became the University of Illinois in 1867, and was the only campus building until the Mechanical Building and Drill Hall was erected in 1872.
But how did Champaign County happen to have an empty school to donate to the University in the first place? The answer involves God, money, war, and politics. Continue reading “Life and Death Of the Elephant: the Secret History Of the First University Building”