Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: First Chancellor’s Residence Edition

July 11th, 2019

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Did you know that KU did not have an official residence for the Chancellor until 1893, when the university was almost thirty years old? This first residence wasn’t The Outlook, the home of Jabez and Elizabeth Watkins that became the Chancellor’s Residence in 1939. It was another home at 1345 Louisiana that was demolished in 1953 to make way for present-day Douthart Hall.

Photograph of the KU Chancellor's Residence at 1345 Louisiana, 1897
The KU Chancellor’s Residence at 1345 Louisiana, 1897. It was located just behind Spooner Hall, the corner of which is visible on the left. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/11 1897 Prints: Campus: Buildings: Chancellor’s Residence (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

The article “An Old Friend” on the KU history website tells the story of how the first Chancellor’s Residence came to be built.

In 1891, the University had received a generous $91,618 bequest from the estate of William B. Spooner, a successful Boston leather merchant and philanthropist. Spooner, the uncle of then-KU Chancellor Francis Huntington Snow, had placed no restrictions on the use of his donation. The bulk of these funds, approximately $80,000, thus went to fill a desperate University need, that being a new freestanding library. Completed in 1894 and named in honor of its benefactor, the Henry van Brunt-designed Spooner Library – now known as Spooner Hall – stands today as Mount Oread’s oldest continually used academic structure.

Adequate library space was hardly the only thing the not yet 30-year-old University of Kansas lacked at this time. Also missing was an official chancellor’s residence, which forced KU’s early chief executives to keep their own private homes in town. Perhaps it was only fitting, then – considering the Spooner endowment’s familial origins – that when KU decided to spend the remaining $12,000 to construct a proper chancellor’s quarters, Chancellor Snow should be the first one to benefit.

Another van Brunt creation, the three-story, early Prairie Style home located at 1345 Louisiana Street welcomed the Snow family in December 1893.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Sledding Edition

December 8th, 2016

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 32,900 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

We were excited about yesterday’s snow – the first of the year – even though it wasn’t enough for the type of fun shown in this week’s photograph.

Photograph of Chancellor Frank Strong's children sledding, 1900s

Sledding on campus, 1900s. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Snow 1900s Prints: Campus: Areas and Objects (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

In the background of the photograph are the old chancellor’s residence (left) – located at 1345 Louisiana, where Douthart Scholarship Hall now stands – and Spooner Hall, then the campus library (right).

Notation on the back of the photograph indicates that one of the children on the sled is Evelyn Strong, the daughter of Chancellor Frank Strong and his wife Mary. Evelyn was born around 1896 and graduated from KU in 1917. With her is Elfriede Fischer (1896-1992), who was also a 1917 KU graduate; she donated the photo to Spencer Research Library.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Throwback Thursday: Apparition Edition

October 27th, 2016

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 29,500 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

In honor of Halloween, this week’s photograph shows a spooky shadow haunting The Outlook, the home of Jabez and Elizabeth Watkins that became the Chancellor’s Residence in 1939. (From 1894 to 1939, the chancellor lived at 1345 Louisiana, located at the northwest corner of 14th and Louisiana streets. Douthart Scholarship Hall currently occupies that location.)

But, two notes on the back of the photo provide a logical explanation for the apparent apparition. The first one reads: “Mrs. Watkins’ front hall, looking into dining room. Her niece from Louisiana was taking a time exposure [photograph] and I thought I could walk through without its showing, but I did (in line with dining room arch). Gary Bennett, 1924.” In reply, someone else has written “So you thought a ‘slip thru’ would not show – ‘I told you so.'”

Photograph of The Outlook interior, 1924

Interior view of The Outlook with a shadowy figure, 1924. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/11/i 1532 Lilac Lane 1924 Prints:
Campus: Buildings: Chancellor’s Residence Interior (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Wayback Wednesday: Christmas Lights Edition

December 23rd, 2015

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 16,200 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Happy holidays, Jayhawks! Remember that Spencer Research Library will be closed through Sunday, January 3rd.

Photograph of the Chancellor's residence during holidays, 1966

Chancellor’s Residence with holiday lights, 1966. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/11 1966 Negatives: Campus: Buildings: Chancellor’s Residence (Photos).
Click on image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Throwback Thursday: Pumpkin Edition

October 1st, 2015

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 6,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of pumpkins decorating the porch at the Chancellor's residence, 1986

Pumpkins decorate the porch at the Chancellor’s residence, 1986.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/11 1986 Negatives:
University General: Buildings: Chancellor’s Residence (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants