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Stephenson Hall of Science Collection

Identifier: LU-RG08-007
This collection is comprised of materials documenting the history of Stephenson Hall of Science, the home of the Lawrence science department from when it was built in 1898 until it was razed in 1998. Correspondence, newspaper clippings, programs, contracts, and photographs are included in the collection. Materials on the 1948 renovation of the building are also included.


  • 1899-1998


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights and copyright reside with Lawrence University. For uses beyond those allowed for fair use under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.), please contact the University Archivist.


0.80 Linear Feet

Biographical or Historical Information

Stephenson Hall of Science, built in 1898, provided facilities for both the physical and biological sciences. Prior to Stephenson, science classes were held in the cramped, poorly ventilated rooms of Main Hall. President Samuel Plantz lobbied actively for the creation of a science building beginning in 1895. His wife Myra Plantz and Edith Davis were the chief fundraisers for the new building. The first contribution came from D.K. Parson of Chicago in the amount of $5,000. Mrs. Plantz and Davis also traveled to Boston and secured a contribution of $2,200 from the children of Amos Lawrence, the founder of Lawrence University. The major donation for the building came from lumber baron Isaac Stephenson, who donated $15,000. Stephenson was from Marinette and served on the Lawrence Board of Trustees from 1896-1918. It was decided that because of his generous donation, the new science building would be named in his honor. The cost to build Stephenson Hall was $32,000. Excavation for the new building began in June 1898, and the architect was J. J. Van Ryn of Milwaukee. By October 1898, the building was so far along that the university insured it against fire. A few days later, through the carelessness of a tinsmith, fire destroyed the roof and third story of the building. It was feared the fire would spread to Main Hall and Ormsby Hall, but it was contained to the science building. Stephenson Hall was completed in 1899, and was made of brick and limestone and had a gingerbread façade. Stephenson was renovated in 1948 at a cost of $380,000. Both the interior and exterior were largely rebuilt, and the gingerbread façade was removed. Renovation was completed in December 1948 and faculty and students began using the building again in January 1949. The building was razed in the summer of 1998 to make room for the new Science Hall.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged alphabetically by subject and type of material, then chronologically at the file level.

Method of Acquisition

Materials on Stephenson Hall were collected and placed in the Archives vertical file prior to 2005. The donor and source of the materials, as well as who collected them and arranged them in the vertical file is unknown.

Processing Information

Preliminary processing was done prior to 2005, date and processor unknown. Further processing and completion of finding aid was done by Julia Stringfellow, 2010.


Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2014-04-10: Photograph of second cornerstone contents added after it was opened

Repository Details

Part of the Lawrence University Archives Repository

Seeley G. Mudd Library
113 South Lawe Street
Appleton WI 54911 US
(920) 832-6753