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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


What’s in a name? Old Main


Old Main, the first building on the University of Arizona campus, opened in 1891.

There were only six students enrolled in the first freshman class out of 32 students who applied.

In those days, before the CatTran, UA students rode to class on horses, which they tied to posts outside the building.

Old Main had a kitchen and sleeping quarters for students and faculty in addition to several classrooms, labs and offices.

The landscape around Old Main was also very different from the lawn, fountain and trees currently surrounding the building. At the time, the building was surrounded by wildlife and the university’s first cactus garden, created in 1891 by professor James W. Toumey.

It wasn’t until 1919 that the Berger Memorial Fountain was built in honor of UA students who died fighting in World War I. The fountain was a gift from Alexander Berger, whose nephew Alexander Tindolph Berger died in the war. The fountain dedication ceremony took place in 1920 with guest of honor General John J. Pershing.

In 1938, the building was deemed “”unsafe”” and closed until 1942, when the United States Navy paid $89,000 for repairs to use the building as a wartime Naval Indoctrination School.

More than 11,000 men were trained for the armed forces at the UA during World War II.

Old Main currently houses several offices, including the Dean of Students Office.

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