From the Archives: Mac Hall in the making

archives120412Mackenzie Hall’s sculptural cornices are one of the most striking features of Marquam Hill’s architecture. Like many early campus buildings, the hall was designed by Ellis Fuller Lawrence (1879-1946), who was then Oregon’s best-known architect. In this photo, taken during the 1917-1921 construction of the Medical Science Building (now part of Mackenzie Hall), Lawrence is shown with two sculptures of heroic figures. The figures are said to represent the mythical centaur Chiron, who was the teacher of Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of medicine. The figures now flank one of the Rod of Asclepius symbols at the crest of Mac Hall’s outermost wings.

While Lawrence was a leading architect of his time, and many of his buildings won national awards, he remains little known outside of Oregon. Within the state, he made a lasting impression on public architecture and urban planning. In 1914, the Board of Regents hired him to create an expansive, long-range architectural plan for the state university system. This plan resulted in many buildings that are familiar to visitors to University of Oregon’s Eugene Campus, such as the Knight Library and the Schnitzer Museum of Art. A campus plan for the University of Oregon Medical School was also part of this project. The plan was never completely fulfilled and was radically changed over the years. However, Lawrence buildings such as Mac Hall, the Library and Auditorium, the Tuberculosis Hospital (now the Campus Services Building) and others still stand. His designs for a so-called "Contagious Hospital" and "Psychopathic Hospital" on the hill were never realized. While all of Lawrence’s buildings on the hill have been substantially altered over the years, the harmonious, eclectic nature of their design has been maintained.


Photo: Ellis F. Lawrence with two sculptures


Contributed by Maija Anderson, Archivist, OHSU Historical Collections & Archives