What Unusual Feature Does Ohio State’s Orton Hall Have In Honor of Their First President, Dr. Edward J. Orton?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to architecture and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the architecture urban legends featured so far.

ARCHITECTURE URBAN LEGEND: Ohio State University’s Orton Hall was designed in a peculiar fashion to honor the school’s first president, Dr. Edward J. Orton, Sr.

Dr. Edward J. Orton, Sr. (1829-1899) was a geologist who was also the first President of Ohio State University. He served in that capacity from September 17, 1873 – June 21, 1881. He taught geology at Ohio State from 1873 until his death in 1899. Similarly, he was the school’s official geologist from 1882-1899. He did this despite suffering a semi-paralytic stroke in 1891.

In any event, in 1892 the school unveiled Orton Hall to honor their first president. Here is a modern day picture of the hall, which includes the Department of Geology and Mineralogy’s offices and laboratories of Paleontology, Historical Geology and Sedimentology, the Orton Geological Museum, and the Orton Geological Library (the Library was dedicated by Orton’s son, Robert Orton, Jr., the first Chairman of Ceramic Engineering at Ohio State, in 1920)….

But here’s the interesting thing about Orton Hall, and the reason that the Hall has been entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

You see, in honor of Dr. Orton, forty kinds of stone were used to build the hall – the forty kinds of stones that are found in Ohio’s bedrock! Not only that, but the stones were arranged by how they appear in Ohio’s bedrock. The older rocks make up the lower part of the building and the younger rocks are found toward the top. Isn’t that fascinating?

What a tribute to a great geologist!

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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