Lawrence, KS

Historic Spooner Hall was the first library building built at the University of Kansas and the sixth building on campus

CJ Coombs

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Spooner Hall, on University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas.Bhall87 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

From 1893 to 1894, the construction of Spooner Hall was taking place and would become the first library building and sixth structure to be built on the University of Kansas campus. The architecture was Richardsonian Romanesque. Henry Van Brunt and Frank M. Howe of the well-known architectural firm Van Brunt & Howe designed the building.

Funds were bequeathed by William B. Spooner to build Spooner Hall. Although he was a leather merchant in Massachusetts, he had a family connection to the university. The building is made of Oread Limestone blocks and red Dakota sandstone. It's pretty impressive.

In 1924, the library in Spooner Hall was replaced by a new library. By 1926, the original library building became the Spooner-Thayer Museum of Art which would change its name later to the University of Kansas Museum of Art. In 1978, the collection of art was relocated to the Spencer Museum of Art.

In 1979, Spooner Hall became the University of Kansas Museum of Anthropology. In 2007, the main floor was renovated.

On July 15, 1974, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is the oldest continuously used academic structure on campus and houses The Commons,

a space intended to encourage research and teaching across the domains of the natural sciences, the arts, and the humanities—a space where everyone has the right to give voice. (Source.)

Frank M. Howe

Frank M. Howe was one of the architects of Spooner Hall. Henry Van Brunt was his partner. Later, he was part of Howe, Hoit & Cutler where he partnered with Henry F. Hoit.

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Architect Frank M. Howe (b. July 20, 1849, d. Jan. 4, 1909).Creel, George and Slavens, John (Photo by Thomson), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Howe was born in Massachusetts where he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He began employment with William Ware and Henry Van Brunt while still attending school. Ware and Van Brunt began an architectural firm in 1864 and after Ware retired, Howe joined Van Brunt renaming the firm, Van Brunt & Howe.

Both Howe and Van Brunt began to build a reputation in parts of the country. In the late 1880s, they opened an office in Kansas City that was at first managed by Howe. After Van Brunt retired, he returned to Massachusetts where he died in 1903.

In 1904, Howe partnered with two graduates of MIT, Henry F. Hoit and William H. Cutler. When Cutler died in 1907, the firm became Howe & Hoit.

In 1909, Howe died of heart disease. He was only 59. In June 1908, he traveled to Europe with his wife and daughter, Dorothy, and had been ill since.

In 1871, Howe married Mary Elizabeth Wyman. They had two daughters named Katherine and Dorothy. In 1887, they designed and built a house located at 1707 Jefferson Street in Kansas City, Missouri. Interestingly, their residence was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Howe was associated with the Papyrus Club in Boston, the Kansas City Club, and the Commercial Club. He was also the president of the Knife and Fork Club and the Philharmonic Society. In 1899, he joined the American Institue of Architects (AIA) where he was the president of the Kansas City chapter from 1901 to 1908. In 1901, he was named a Fellow of the American Institue of Architects (FAIA).

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author; 30 years of legal secretarial experience; BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO
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