USC history was made 132 years ago today with the laying of the cornerstone of the university’s first structure. That original building — once named Widney Hall and now known as the Widney Alumni House — still stands today on USC’s University Park Campus. In 1955, the building was designated California Historical Landmark No. 556. A plaque in front of the structure reads:
Dedicated on September 4, 1880, this original building of the University of Southern California has been in use continuously for educational purposes since its doors were first opened to students on October 6, 1880, by the university’s first president, Marion McKinley Bovard. The building was constructed on land donated by Ozro W. Childs, John G. Downey and Isaias W. Hellman under the guiding hand of Judge Robert M. Widney, the university’s leading founder.
This etching from the USC Digital Library’s Dick Whittington Collection shows the building as it appeared in the late 19th century.
Cool. Also wonder how far away the Civil war felt to these first students… 6 months after they started classes.