Arkansas Industrial University was founded in response to the federal Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, but the college’s development was disrupted by the Civil War. In 1871, the official founding date, two frame buildings were hastily built on a hilltop a mile west of the town square on land donated by H. B. McIlroy in order to meet the 1871 deadline set by the act.
Expansion of the campus began around 1895 with two dormitories for men (no longer standing) west of Old Main. These were followed during the next decade with new buildings for sciences, music, and agriculture engineering. In 1906 a bold decision was made to house women on campus in Ella Carnall Hall (WA26.8). It was located in the northwest corner of the campus rectangle, a site 150 yards from the men’s dormitories, a distance thought at the time to be “proper.” The next significant growth period began in 1925 and lasted until the beginning of World War II, during which new building responded to a master plan produced by Jamieson and Spearl of St. Louis. Most of the gray limestone buildings during this period were designed by that St. Louis firm in Collegiate Gothic, one of the dominant styles of the period for educational buildings. The campus landscape, like its buildings, is eclectic: wooded, grassy, and shaded to the east, it opens to significant hardscape as one approaches the campus epicenter.
Soon after World War II the increased enrollment supported by the GI Bill necessitated campus expansion, and that new building construction has continued into the twentyfirst century. The university’s expansion policy departed from prewar traditional building design to embrace philosophies of modern architecture.