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Ferguson Hall

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As early as 1928, Chancellor Burnett identified the need for a new electrical engineering facility, noting that the department had been housed for decades in a glorified shed. The Seymour Plan of 1926, which laid out a plan for University growth, called for a large Engineering building to be constructed in the area of the current Hamilton Hall. The Great Depression and WWII rationing curtailed construction on campus until after 1945, and a new building for Electrical Engineering was delayed for 20 years.

Prior to the 1960's, the area surrounding Ferguson Hall was identified as the Engineering sector of campus. Mechanical Engineering Laboratories (Richards Hall) and Mechanic Arts Hall (later called Stout Hall, now demolished) were devoted to Engineering programs, as was the dilapidated original Nebraska Hall; it was logical that Electrical Engineering's new facility would be located in this sector and would replace the terribly antiquated building that had housed the program since its inception in the 1890s.

Following WWII, Ferguson Hall was one of the first new University buildings to be constructed. Groundbreaking for Ferguson Hall took place in 1948 on the site of the recently demolished University Hall. It was designed to accommodate administrative offices for the College of Engineering as well as the Electrical Engineering department. Ferguson Hall opened for students and faculty in the fall of 1950. It was named to honor OJ Ferguson, the retired Dean of Engineering.

Ferguson Hall is reflective of building trends that were sweeping the country in the years immediately following WWII, and it marks a major turning point in building design on the University campus. Prior to WWII, buildings were designed with an eye toward a classical style that had been the norm for decades. Although Ferguson Hall architects Davis & Wilson used the ubiquitous red brick and limestone trim that was the standard material for all city campus buildings, the firm departed from the classical theme by its use of simplified forms, streamlined details, glass block, and horizontal bands of windows with continuous trim. Rather than pilasters and columns, the simple, flat façade is enhanced by a marble entryway and decorative marble panels, and a wide patio-style entry porch.

Nearly twenty years later, a formal campus planning study was conducted that recommended moving Engineering related activities into the new Nebraska Hall, a warehouse which had been purchased by the University in 1958. Gradually, engineering programs left the southwest corner of campus as the new area was developed.

A Nebraska State Historical Society marker commemorating the founding of the University and the site of University Hall is located on the south side of Ferguson Hall.

Source Information:
Bd of Regents minutes; Nebraska Alumnus, April 1948. The Cornhusker, 1951; One Hundred Years of Excellence, by A John Boye. UNL Dept. of Elec. Engineering, 1997.