History

Constructed before Arizona achieved statehood, Old Main represents a rich tradition for Arizona State University. Thanks to a $5.7 million campaign led by the ASU Alumni Association, Old Main has been refurbished to the period of its construction and serves as a place on the main campus where alumni can always return.

Originally dedicated February 4, 1898, Old Main stood three stories and dominated the campus. A trailblazer in technology, it was the first building in Tempe wired for electric lighting.

When Teddy Roosevelt came to the Valley for the dedication of the Roosevelt Dam in 1911, Old Main was the natural location from which he addressed the community.

In 1985, the year ASU celebrated its centennial, Old Main was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In the early 1990s, some renovations to protect the building began. Discussions about restoring Old Main picked up speed with strong support from then ASU President Lattie Coor, and in 1996 the project became an integral part of the university’s $400 million Campaign for Leadership.

Murals by Joseph M. Henninger, entitled “Spanish Influence in Arizona” and “Industrial Development in Arizona,” are now displayed in Old Main. Both 1930s murals were originally commissioned for Matthews Library as part of a Franklin D. Roosevelt New Deal art project. To learn more about the murals, visit the Herberger Institute for Design.

If you would like to help preserve Old Main, you can do so but buying a brick or a plaque. More information can be found online.