University Hall, sometimes called "Old Main," was the first university building constructed at the new site in April 1890. Robert Sawyers Roeschlaub (1843-1923), a noted Colorado architect designed the building, and would go on to design several other buildings for DU. For the ease of transport and cost effectiveness, Roeschlaub chose to use rose-colored lava stone from a quarry near Castle Rock, less than 30 miles south of Denver. The four floors of the building were connected by two elegant spiraled staircases on the west and east ends. A cupola on top housed a bell that called students to class and chapel services.
After two years of construction, University Hall opened in 1892. As the only building on campus at the time, it housed all student and administrative activities and included a chapel, reception rooms, chancellor’s office, library, chemistry lab, women’s gymnasium, four general classrooms, spaces for the school literary club, newspaper, a museum, and more.
One of the earliest buildings erected on the newly acquired lands was Chamberlin Observatory. Far from the lights of Denver, University Park was a perfect location for stargazing. Construction began just east of campus in 1888 when amateur astronomer Humphrey Baker Chamberlin donated $5,000 toward the purchase of a good telescope.
Chamberlin may have instigated the project, but it was Herbert Alonzo Howe, DU’s first astronomer, who not only oversaw the construction of the building but personally transported the 20-inch refractor telescope lens by train all the way from New York to Colorado. Initially, the Chamberlin Observatory was only used by professional and amateur astronomers, but a second, smaller facility was added for students in 1891.
Iliff School of Theology
The Iliff School of Theology began as the theology department of the University of Denver, which at the time maintained strong ties to the Methodist Church. Elizabeth Iliff Warren, wife of Methodist Bishop Henry White Warren, donated $100,000 toward the building which was to be a complement to University Hall in both style and mission.
In 1897, financial troubles forced Iliff to close its doors, severing organizational ties with DU. Although Iliff reopened in 1910 in the same location, the School of Theology and the University of Denver remained separate institutions. Nonetheless, the two schools maintain ties to this day through a joint PhD program in Religious and Theological Studies.