ET_Nick-webIf you were expecting the summer issue sooner, I apologize. ‘Building History‘ was some time in the making. It’s a brief history of Mines through the lens of campus architecture (with a few digressions along the way) and it has been a lot of fun (and work) to put together.

Amie Chitwood and I spent countless hours poring through thousands of old photographs and referencing dozens of historical documents. Deb Melani conducted interviews with individuals throughout Golden, including the campus architect, alumni and local historians, Rick Gardner was particularly helpful. Using records from the office of Capital Planning and Construction, we charted the growth of campus (total square footage of all buildings) 1874-2014, and graphed them alongside enrollment data that we cobbled together from three different sources. You’ll find the resulting graph interesting, but it’s only available online, there wasn’t room to include it in the print edition.

The most exciting find was the photo featured on the cover, showing the original School of Mines building. For years, the only depiction I’d seen of the early campus was an idealized sketch of three stately buildings. The photo on the cover, donated last year to the photo archives of the Golden History Museum, where we stumbled across it, reveals a much grittier reality.

But interesting as it is to see the building, the photo would not have made the cover if it weren’t for the group of students in the background standing on the tower of the School of Mines. We didn’t even notice them until we magnified the image; once we did, we realized that the photo was probably taken after the split with Jarvis Hall and students from the School of Mines hadn’t been invited to pose for the photographer, so they photobombed instead. Whether that’s the truth or not, it’s the earliest photograph we know of that features Colorado School of Mines students, and we are excited to share it with you.

Working on this story has given me an even greater respect for historians and the amount of time required to reconcile fragmentary, disparate and contradictory information from the past. Even this relatively short article, aimed at satisfying the curiosity of casual readers, has required a massive effort. For history buffs seeking more, we yield to professionals like Gardner, whose books and manuscripts are piled high in Arthur Lakes Library and elsewhere.

Please write us ([email protected]) if your research casts additional light on anything mentioned here. I will read your letters with interest, but I won’t be editing them. After 7 years and 23 issues, I am stepping down as editor of Mines magazine. It’s been an honor to serve the Mines community in this role, which has given me the opportunity to meet so many extraordinary individuals and retell their stories.

Thank you for sharing. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support.


Nick Sutcliffe
Editor and Director of Communications
Colorado School of Mines Alumni Association