Still true to fame for strength, convenience, beauty

(Photos and slide show by Tim Marsh, WSU Today)
PULLMAN – Majestic Thompson Hall on the WSU Pullman campus is the university’s oldest major building. It is among the most recognized and photographed of campus facilities.
Built in 1893-1894, it was home to WSU administration (it is sometimes still referred to as the “Old Admin Building”) until 1968 when the French Administration building opened.
Thompson was named in 1972 for Albert Wilder Thompson, dean of the College of Sciences and Arts at WSU 1953-64. After administrative offices departed, Thompson housed the College of Liberal Arts (following the separation of the College of Sciences and Arts), the foreign language department and classrooms.
The building’s design by the Seattle architectural firm of James Stephen and Timothetus Jesnhans was selected over 16 other entries in a competition held by the WSU Board of Regents. It was constructed for less than $50,000 using red brick made from clay deposits in back of what is now Stevens Hall.
Thompson Hall is prominently sited and immediately identifiable by its two large towers, one truncated and one with conical roof. The romantic Victorian Romanesque character of the building is enhanced by a variety of windows and entryways and the use of rock-faced granite – quarried near Spokane – for its contrasting trim.
At the 1895 dedication ceremony, regents described the building as “an excellent piece of work and one that in point of convenience, strength and architectural beauty compares with any state building.”
It has been extensively remodeled inside, but the exterior remains largely intact. Thompson is one of WSU’s most notable buildings, an excellent example of an early ideal in education architecture.
There were a variety of sources for this story. They include:
– WSU Buildings, from Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections of WSU’s Holland and Terrell Library.
– Spokane Spokesman-Review article, “Oldest building at WSU returned to former glory,” published in the Seattle Times.