On July 20, 1901, Alexander Christie, Archbishop of Oregon City, entered into an agreement to purchase from the University Land Co. a building and twenty-eight acres of land on Waud’s Bluff under the conditions that “a school be conducted and a major building erected within ten years” (James Covert, Point of Pride, p. 33).
The original purchase brought us what is now Waldschmidt Hall, built in 1891. Entrance to the university was via a simple dirt drive which skirted along the top of the bluff. Both the 1891 building and that back access road, since paved, are still in use; fixed features of the University of Portland campus since the very first. In a hurry to comply with the purchase agreement, classes began September 5, 1901 but the ‘new’ building was not to arrive until 1911, when Christie Hall was constructed and named to honor the archbishop’s initiative in founding the University.
The familiar Willamette main entrance and circular campus drive belong to the 1960s. Major reconstruction of the entrance began in June, 2014.
“In Memoriam: Schulte Lake” by Brian Doyle, University of Portland Facebook post, June 24, 2014 (used with permission)
The University finally, after many years of pondering the matter, is building a new front entrance to campus – a vast project which will be finished in August, just before the biggest freshman class in 113 years arrives. It will be glorious, the new front drive. It will be impressive, as befits a fine university grown greatly in confidence and renown. It will be more welcoming, much clearer signage-wise, much more of a statement, even a marketing endeavor. It makes sense, and things like campus entryways must change and morph and mature, like any other entity; so that while alumni of a certain age still mourn the little stone bus-shelter that once crouched at one side of the front gate, and younger alumni still remember with affection the day the front sign read UNIVESITY OF PORTLAND after an R seceded overnight, some older members of the staff and faculty will remember an oddly persistent dip in the road, just as you drove your wheezing vehicle onto campus: the famous, or infamous, Schulte Lake, a remarkable space on this earth that instantly filled with six inches of water in any rain whatsoever, from the merest drizzle to the usual steady weeping of winter. For nearly fifty years the powers-that-be on The Bluff fought Schulte Lake, filling it in, paving it over, paving it a tenth and twentieth time, but never would it surrender, not even to the express command and herculean efforts of the legendary Arthur Schulte, long the vice president in charge of pretty much everything at the University. Again and again and again Art sent his agents against Schulte Lake, and they returned triumphant to report its demise, and as soon as the sky glowered and a mist arose the lake filled again, and cars and small dogs were lost in its depths; but come this August we can only assume the lake is gone at last, and while that will be an excellent state of affairs for cars and small dogs, and for the startled passersby who were again and again caught by waves of splashage from cars gunning desperately for the other shore, a small subtle piece of the University’s past will be gone too, receding gently like the lake did under the occasional sunburst; so let us pause a moment this morning, and remember that insistent water, and the dedicated man for whom it was named, and all those little stories that make up the University’s long and colorful tale, long may it wag.