orton hall

Historical photos of orton hall - ohio state university campus

The building is named after Edward Orton Sr., OSU’s first president and Professor of Geology. His passion for this discipline is reflected throughout the building, which was constructed between 1891 and 1893. All of the 40 types of stone native to Ohio were used in the building’s construction, and they were arranged from bottom to top in the order in which they appear in the Ohio bedrock. The gargoyles surrounding the top of Orton Tower are not of mythical creatures but of prehistoric animals. The front steps include hundreds of fossils of marine life buried in the limestone that makes up the steps. The building, whose architecture is in the French Romanesque style, was originally the Geology Building; the Board of Trustees renamed it Orton Hall in memory of the first president. The Geology Museum, which still is housed in the building, features more than 30,000 geological specimens, including that of the skeleton of a giant sloth. It also houses the Orton Memorial Library, which served as the University’s second library until the Thompson Library opened in 1913. The Chimes in the Tower were a gift of the Classes of 1906-1911 and 1913 and 1914. The 12 bells, which together weigh about 12 tons, and the framework holding them in place cost a total of $7,500 to install. Initially, the twice-a-day bell concerts were played by hand (the player would have to climb 80 steps to do so), but they were automated in 1987.