Henry Augustus Buchtel, a Methodist minister born in Ohio, is credited with saving the young University of Denver from bankruptcy. He served as chancellor from 1900 to 1924, leading DU through its second financial crisis with his impressive fundraising skills. An old joke told of a boy who had swallowed a nickel. “Go get Chancellor Buchtel!” someone said, “If he can’t get the nickel out of him, nobody can!”
Buchtel wanted to see the institution become a leader in higher education and an extensive building program was a part of this vision. He gained the support of several donors for these projects including the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In 1907, Carnegie donated $30,000 to the University of Denver to construct a new building dedicated exclusively to the school’s library holdings and $50,000 toward the construction of Science Hall (Students later referred to the building as the “gas house” due to the odious smells produced by the experiments conducted within.). Working from an updated version of the campus plan designed by Roeschlaub, Buchtel expanded the campus building by building. By 1914, five new structures had appeared: Templin Hall (1907), Carnegie Library (1909), Science Hall (1909), Alumni Gymnasium (1910), and the Memorial Chapel, later renamed the Buchtel Memorial Chapel (1917). These new additions employed cutting-edge architectural designs. After only 10 years, many already considered Old Main and the Iliff School of Theology outdated.
Buchtel’s character and hard work earned him the respect of Denver citizens. He was elected Colorado’s governor and served one term (1907-1909) while remaining DU chancellor.