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Model shows Austin Peay of decades ago

March 5, 2001

See what the Austin Peay campus looked like in the 1940s when a three-dimensional model, complete with the Castle Building, Calvin Hall and other buildings, is unveiled at 11 a.m., Thursday, March 8 in the Browning Building lobby.

Melanie Withers, a 2000 graduate of APSU, was commissioned to do the work by Evans Harvill, former Tennessee Board of Regents member and a 1947 Austin Peay State College graduate. Harvill grew up on campus beginning at the age of three, when his father was a history professor on the original faculty and later, president.

"Evans has wanted to do this project for years," Withers said. "He wanted to show how the campus has changed over time and how far the University has come."

She began with one old photo, later picking up photos from several different archives, and she interviewed several people.

"One of my sources was Kay Warren, who lived in a back apartment of Robb Hall. Her father, Haskell Phillips, was a biology professor, and he took lots of beautiful photos of the campus.

"Some of these buildings date back to when Southwestern Presbyterian was on the site of what is now Austin Peay," said Withers, who worked on the project for 18 months.

Southwestern Presbyterian moved to Memphis in the 1920s and is now known as Rhodes College. That meant Withers took a field trip there to scour their archives. She also picked up photos from APSU's Office of Marketing and Public Relations and from APSU and Tennessee State Archives. She credits APSU historian Charles Waters with putting her in touch with Warren, and APSU archivist Elaine Berg for finding several photos. Two local architect firms, Lane Lyle and Rufus Johnson, also provided material. More help came from Dr. Howard Winn, APSU history professor, who provided information and verified dates and information. Evans also loaned Withers old yearbooks.

But for some models, she had to make her best guess as to how the back looked since most photos were shots of the fronts of the buildings. "For others, I used Evans' memory to fill in blanks for what I couldn't see from photos or blueprints."

The model has two layers. The upper level is a replication of what the campus looked like in 1946. The bottom level is a 'footprint' of the present campus, which has flat representations of not only current buildings, but other projects penciled in under the 10-year campus plan. To provide more historical information about the present campus, she also included photos of the person for whom the building is named.

Eight buildings are represented. Those buildings, and the years they were on campus, are: Calvin Hall, 1900-1966; the cafeteria, also known as the Student Union, 1916-1967; Harned Hall, 1931-present; the power plant, 1928-present; the Castle Building, 1849-1946; the President's Home, 1880-1966; Robb Hall, 1859-1966; and Stewart-Wadell Hall, 1878-1958.

Withers learned history is not an exact science. For example, she said 1859 is the recorded date for the first year of Robb Hall, but some people claim it's older than the Castle Building.

"I made a discovery no one else knew about. I found a picture of Robb Hall and another building, which no one could identify. We later found that it was called 'Prep Alley.' People who attended Southwestern were well familiar with it."

The model is archival quality and will be conserved under glass. "One hundred fifty to 200 years down the line, this model will still be there," she said. "Evans feels this is the last chance to preserve the memory of these buildings."