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1923 Sutton Hall
Sutton Hall was dedicated to William J. Sutton, who twice in his career saved the Cheney Normal School from closure. He served as principal of the college from 1892-1897, and later was elected a State Senator. Sutton was born in Michigan on September 29, 1865, and graduated from the Fenton, Michigan Normal School in 1886. The next year he moved to Washington. Being a man of some charisma as well as ability, he was soon elected principal of the Cheney Public School. Sutton was chosen as Vice Principal of the newly established Cheney State Normal School in 1890, and two years later he was elected Principal.
The original Benjamin P. Cheney Academy building burned in 1891, but Sutton was able to prevent efforts to close the school. By the time he resigned from the Normal School in February of 1897, the institution had a new Administration Building, funded by an appropriation from the State Legislature. Soon after resigning, William J. Sutton married Nellie Hutchinson, who had been principal of the Cheney Normal Training School, and he turned his focus on farming and breeding horses. He also served as president of the Security National Bank of Cheney.
Sutton was first elected as a State Senator in 1912, shortly after the Cheney State Normal School building had once again burned. In a singular effort against the odds, Senator Sutton pushed through passage of a $300,000 appropriation, despite Governor Ernest Lister's veto. The money was used to build the Administration Building, later christened Showalter Hall, which is still the most prominent building on campus. Sutton went on to serve a total of four terms in the Washington State Senate, during which time he chaired several educational commissions. In that capacity, he helped save the State College (WSU) in Pullman from being reduced to the status of a trade school. He retired from politics in 1929, and oversaw the farming operation on his land near Cheney, as well as staying involved in local civic improvement projects until his death in December 1940.
Many honors were bestowed upon William Sutton in his lifetime, for his fellow citizens were very proud of what he had achieved. Along with Sutton Park, Sutton Hall is an enduring monument to his career and pivotal role in the Cheney Normal School.
Sutton Hall is a three-story red and brown brick structure with a concrete foundation and flat roof. Incorporating Classical and Renaissance Revival elements, it was designed to be harmonious with other campus buildings. Its plan is a wide letter "H", 133 feet long across with two 111 foot wings.
At the rear of the building are two one-story extensions that complete the "H." These both have flat roofs with metal coping, but lack the cornice and stringcourse of the main section. Above these, the main cornice wraps around the rear of each wing. The shorter back wall is capped with plain metal coping. Windows facing the rear courtyard are mostly sets of four double-hung wood sash windows with transoms. These windows look out from rooms originally designated as sleeping porches. Most of the Hall's interior has been removed. The most interesting feature remaining is the seemingly redundant interior brick wall which enclosed the sleeping porches in the rear of the building.
The exterior of Sutton Hall has undergone only minor changes and still possesses excellent historical integrity. The building was remodeled into an office building in 1978. Unfortunately, the interior was completely taken out, leaving no trace of the building's original function. The building was completely rebuilt in 1996 to house student service functions. The interior spaces bear no resemblance to their historic dormitory configuration.
SourcesCheney Free Press. Cecil Dryden; Light for an Empire — The history of Eastern Washington State College; 1964. Guide to the Eastern Washington University Campus Historic District; 2003.
Cheney, WA 99004
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