Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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University Art Gallery
History of the Building First-time visitors to the University Art Gallery are often curious about the building's history. Their first impression-that the building was not originally designed as an art gallery-is correct. Constructed in 1902, the building once housed coal-fired boilers and generators to provide steam heat and electricity for Sherman Hall. Despite its utilitarian function, the brick building's symmetrical design, enhanced by arched windows, was designed to complement Sherman Hall, the main building on campus, and the first to be built. The powerhouse's most distinguishing feature, however, was its tall smokestack. When construction on a new powerhouse began in 1925, President Morgan decided to convert the original powerhouse to an academy building, which would serve teachers in training. This project included extensive remodeling of the first floor to accommodate four classrooms and the addition of a second story to be used as an assembly room. The charming playground, used by children during the Western Academy years (1927-1937), has long since been replaced by a parking lot. From 1937-1980, many other departments used the old powerhouse for office space, including the College of Education, the Western Courier, the Office of Public Safety, Alumni Affairs, the Placement Bureau, and Academic Services. The building finally became the home of the University Art Gallery in 1980, when the university's art collection was moved from Browne Hall to the current building.