Main Building (University of Kentucky)

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Main Building's rear taken from the Patterson Office Tower.

Main Building is a four-story administration and classroom building for the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. It houses some administrative offices for the university, the President's office, numerous conference rooms, several classrooms, and a visitors center.[1]


Dedicated on February 15, 1882,[2][3] the Main Building is the only survivor out of the four buildings which originally housed State College. It was designed using brick, embellished with stone work and was completed at a cost of $81,000.[4] Previous funding attempts had failed, which led to a statement by the then State College President James Patterson to pledge his entire personal wealth "as collateral" to see the project completed. The building was dedicated on February 15, 1882,[3] the same day White Hall and the President's House were completed.

Barker Hall (center) and the Main Building (right), sometime before 1919.

The original Main Building featured a 157 ft (48 m) high cupola with a clock and the "captain's walk" used by the local Weather Observatory. Over time from the building's completion to 1919, the cupola progressively shrank in size; after 1919, the roof took on a "gabled appearance" that characterized the structure until the fire in 2001. During the administration of President Henry Barker (1911–1917), there was a plan to reconstruct the front of the Main Building to include stone pillars but was abandoned soon after it was initiated. In 1918, a campus post office and bookstore was located in the basement but both were relocated in 1925. In 1919, a cafeteria was added but removed in 1929.

It originally housed the campus offices for the State College, along with several classrooms. It also contained the college armory, classrooms used by the Commandant of Cadets, a shop, the President's office, a natural history museum, two laboratories, and housed the Normal, French, German, English, Mathematics, Classical and Preparatory departments. There was also room available for a small chapel which could house the entire student population, faculty and staff, and for the Kentucky Geological Survey.

It was renamed the Administration Building in 1948.

On April 4, 2000, the Administration Building became a focal point for students protesting the university's contract with Nike, a company they accused of using sweatshop labor. Eighteen students locked themselves together in the basement of the building.[5] Early the next morning, twelve students were arrested and charged with trespassing and harassment.[6]

May 15, 2001 fire[edit]

The Main Building in the foreground and the Patterson Office Tower in the background.

The Main Building was extensively damaged during renovations due to fire on May 15, 2001. A soldering iron being used on the copper cornice caused the fire that destroyed the roof, gutted the upper two floors, and left the lower floors flooded and damaged by water. On June 20, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved a plan to restore and reconstruct the Administration Building and design work for the new facility began a few days afterward.

The cost of the reconstruction was $17,350,000.[7] Before reconstruction, there was approximately 30,700 sq ft (2,850 m2). available that featured wide hallways and makeshift offices subdivided from large rooms. After the reconstruction, the building has four public floors (basement, 1st, 2nd & 3rd), plus a mechanical penthouse.[8] The building now features 43,243 sq ft (4,017.4 m2). and includes two balconies in the rear overlooking Patterson Plaza. It was reopened on October 25, 2004.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Main Building." University of Kentucky. 17 November 2006 [1].
  2. ^ "A Chronology of UK". University of Kentucky Special Collections & Digital Programs Division. 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  3. ^ a b "Building Database Full Record: Administration Building". University of Kentucky. 1998-07-14. 
  4. ^ "UK Main Building History." 25 October 2004. University of Kentucky. 21 November 2006 [2].
  5. ^ Kershaw, Tracy (2000-04-05). "Anything to be heard". Kentucky Kernel. 
  6. ^ "Faculty Senate Council acts on sweatshop arrests". University of Kentucky. 2000-05-01. 
  7. ^ "UK Main Building Facts." 25 October 2004. University of Kentucky. 21 November 2006 [3].
  8. ^ UK Facilities Management

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°02′20″N 84°30′17″W / 38.038885°N 84.504792°W / 38.038885; -84.504792