Christmas 1966: The Urbana and Champaign Institute

Urbana, IL

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The Urbana and Chamapign Institute woodblock print

The card's interior

The card’s interior

The University registered the first students in the newly chartered Illinois Industrial University on May 2, 1868. The University property consisted of a considerable amount of land, but only one building, a five story structure erected as the “Urbana-Champaign Institute” over a period of about seven years from 1860-1867.

During the first five years of its operation from 1868 to 1873, the Urbana and Champaign Institute Building was the University of Illinois. It contained all the class rooms, the offices, the meeting room, and also served as a dormitory building. Tuition was $15 a semester, and a student room rented for $4 per semester. Students furnished their own coal or wood for heating their room.

With the opening of University Hall in 1871, the use of the original building began to decline. In 1880, when it had been nearly abandoned because of depreciation, the building was damaged in a windstorm. It was torn down in 1881 and did not live to see “Illinois Industrial University” become the University of Illinois in 1885.

“In the campaign to secure the location of the University in Champaign County, the institute building was derisively termed “The Elephant,” but we believe you will agree that in its way and for its time, it had a certain charm. We have wanted to include it in the series and have saved it intentionally for 1966 just before the beginning of the Centennial Year of the University of Illinois in 1967-1968.” The Turners’ full research on the Institute is accessible in their Christmas 1966 note.

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