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Driving Tour of Emporia, Kansas
Item 2 of 12

Plumb Hall, at the north edge of Kellogg Circle, was constructed from 1916 to 1917 at what was then called Emporia Normal School to replace the older administration building. Plumb Hall was named for Preston B. Plumb, an early settler of Emporia, a Civil War veteran, president of Emporia National Bank, and a U.S. Senator from Kansas from 1877 to 1891. Plumb Hall currently contains the Financial Aid and Accounts offices of Emporia State University as well as the graduate school and an auditorium, Albert Taylor Hall. Marketing and Media Services, and Distance Education offices are located in Plumb Hall, as are Registration and the Student Advising Center.

  • Completed in 1917, this central campus building is named in honor of Free Soil settler and U.S. Senator Preston B. Plumb
  • Charles H. Chandler, State Architect and architect of Plumb Hall. from 1917 obituary (Topeka State Journal)
  • 1915 newspaper article mentioning Plumb Hall to be built (Topeka State Journal)
  • 1917 newspaper article mentioning Plumb Hall also finished (Topeka State Journal)

The school known as Emporia State University since 1977 began in the mid-1860s as the Kansas State Normal School. The school initially had one professor, Lymon Kellogg, and 18 students. One member of the first graduating class was Ellen Plumb, a local resident and daughter of the future senator and namesake of Plumb Hall. The normal school grew in enrollment and became accredited in 1898.

Bids for a $175,000 contract for a new administration building at the Normal School were being gathered in December 1915. The school's quarters at that time were deemed inadequate and the main building was called a fire trap. The name of the new building was to be Preston B. Plumb Memorial Hall. The school had been advocating for even more funds to improve the college - a quarter million dollars. Once Plumb Hall was complete, the state planned to raze the former administration building on campus.

The State Architect, Charles H. Chandler, designed Plumb Hall as well as many other state buildings. R. L. Gamble supervised construction of Plumb Hall for the state's architect office; Construction on Plumb Hall was nearly complete and people were beginning to move into the new spaces in late June 1917. Wrecking of the former administration building, with a core dating to 1880, was continuing. The new building offered 85 classrooms and office rooms, two check rooms, and a 2,500-seat auditorium. Plumb Hall is a four-story brick building with a full basement. The massive building is detailed in limestone and features fluted columns in the main, south entryway within a projecting central block. Mr. Gamble was appointed state architect months after the building was completed, to succeed his late boss, Chandler, who died suddenly from pneumonia at age 53 in December 1917.

The school's name changed again in 1923 when it became Kansas State Teachers College. Another name change happened in 1974, to Emporia Kansas State College. emporia State University now has an enrollment of nearly 6,000 and is the only public university in Kansas that has been named a College of Distinction four times. Plumb Hall is near the southwestern edge of campus, just to the east of the building (Cram Science Hall) containing the Johnston Geology Museum and the Schmidt Museum of Natural History.

Anonymous. "To Award Contract." Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) December 2nd 1915. 4-4.

Anonymous. "Using New Building." Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) July 3rd 1917. 3-3.

Anonymous. "Chandler is Dead." Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) December 19th 1917. 12-12.

Anonymous. "Name R. L. Gamble." Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) December 26th 1917. Home ed, 8-8.

Emporia State University. Preston B. Plumb, Special Collections and Archives. Accessed July 8th 2020.

Emporia State University. History of Emporia State University, History + Traditions. Accessed July 8th 2020.

Emporia State University. Emporia State Stats + Info, About Emporia State University. Accessed July 8th 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Topeka State Journal article "Chandler is Dead" on December 19th 1917 p. 12 (Lib. of Congress Chronicling America)

Topeka State Journal article "To Award Contract" on December 2nd 1915 p. 4 (Lib. of Congress Chronicling America)

Topeka State Journal article "Using New Building" on July 3rd 1917 p. 3 (Lib. of Congress Chronicling America)