August 24, 1891 marked the cornerstone dedication of West Hall, home of the Methodist-sponsored Portland University. West Hall, now renamed Waldschmidt Hall, was a five-story multi-purpose structure in “Richardsonian Romanesque” style designed for classrooms, offices, dining and dormitory living. The architects, McCraw, Martin and White, were influenced by the nationally-known architect, H.H. Richardson, and possibly patterned the structure as a simplified version of Sever Hall at Harvard. A Portland architectural commission eventually designated the building an historical landmark in the 1960s. It was red brick with ground floor masonry of random coursed grey stone, approximately 85 by 135 feet, with two projecting bays in front and one in the rear. The chapel, dining hall and kitchen occupied the first floor, while the second floor contained classrooms, offices, and library. The third and fourth floors were used for dormitory purposes with the fifth or attic floor serving eventually as a small game room and scientific laboratory-museum. Methodist Bishop Oscar P. Fitzgerald laid the cornerstone on August 24, 1891, and the construction cost of the building was $32,500, according to the Report of the Oregon Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in August 1892. One of the University’s great iconic structures, West Hall was completely refurbished in 1991-1992 and renamed in honor of Rev. Paul Waldschmidt, C.S.C., who served as president of the University from 1962 to 1978.
For more University history see the University Almanac at www.up.edu/almanac.