Old Main

old-main-from-s
Old Main from the south
Celebrating 175 years of Knox College

it comes as something of a surprise to me that I’ve yet to write about Galesburg or Knox (the cow mailbox post notwithstanding since I started this post immediately after finishing that one). the college celebrates it 175th anniversary this year (don’t ask me to type or pronounce the word they came up with to describe the milestone) and Old Main, our oldest building, the building in which I had approximately half my classes, is the last site that remains from the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

fun fact that I just learned: during renovations in preparation for the College’s centennial, Janet Post saved the building’s original pine timbers (which were replaced with a steel and concrete skeleton) and reclaimed them to use as the paneling in the Common Room. the bricks in the fireplace were also from the original building material (also — they were handmade! presumably just like those on the brick streets around downtown Galesburg).

Old Main from the north side of the building

everyone who went to Knox has an Old Main story of some kind — working your way along your first  Pumphandle line with brand new friends from your suite; watching assigned films for a memorable class you had; migrating to the Common Room to complete an exam in greater comfort; finally getting around to seeing the Lincoln Chair towards the end of your senior year; running into Roger wandering the halls; discovering that there are, in fact, offices in those nooks off the stairs, offices sometimes occupied by department heads; meeting with Dean Bailey for any number of reasons in his office; staring up at the historic building as your commencement speaker addresses your class…

the Lincoln-Douglas debate platform was set up
along this side of the building

at the very least, you’ve told someone the story of how, upon discovering that the platform set up for the fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate butted up against the western doors of Old Main (which, turned out, opened outward, who knew?), Stephen Douglas walked around the building but our 16th President climbed out one of the windows and quipped “At last I’ve gone through college.” the building is fairly drenched in Lincoln history and no matter how much I groaned about trudging up the stairs to class, every time I made the climb I found it supremely cool how the stairs are all grooved from the use of over a century’s worth of students. no two steps are the same and during the winter months you have to watch your step on the smooth, uneven surfaces or you’ll be on your bum at the bottom of the stairs. Old Main engenders still a lot of pride in my alma mater, no matter how many times it tried to toss me down the stairs.

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.