Colorado School of Mines – Guggenheim Hall

Address1500 Illinois St., Golden, 80401
QuadGolden, 1965 (1994)
SectionS34, T3S, R70W
Source"Colorado Transcript," October 1905, November 1906; "Denver Post," August 8, 1928; CSM Office of Institutional Advancement, March 2, 1992; Norman, C., "Golden Old and New," p. 45; Ubbelohe/Benson/Smith, "A Colorado History," pp. 240-241, 269.
Initialdate1997-04-23 00:00:00-06
HistoryGuggenheim Hall is named in honor of Simon Guggenheim. Mr. Guggenheim and his family controlled a majority of the smelting business in the country. Because of this, he realized the importance of a school of higher education dedicated to mining, engineering and metallurgy. He was also a U.S. Senator from Colorado having been elected in 1906 to the post by the Colorado legislature in a time when United States senators were still elected by state legislatures. Mr. Guggenheim's election brought further outcries that United States senators elected by state legislatures were usually wealthy men, and it gave additional impetus for ratification of the 17th amendment to the Federal constitution which provided for popular election of United States senators. The amendment had been proposed in 1909 and ratified in 1913. In 1905, in honor of the birth of his son, he donated to the Colorado School of Mines enough money to build and furnish the building named after him. The sum was $80,000, and for its time at the beginning of the twentieth century, it was the largest private grant to any State institution. Nor was that the end of Mr. Guggenheim's support. In 1928 the foundation of the building was damaged because of the shifting soil. Mr. Guggenheim donated $25,000 to repair the foundation, and when he died his will contained a $100,000 bequest to the school. The building was designed by James Murdoch, and in 1905 the cornerstone was laid by the Grand Lodge of Masons. The opening of the building in 1906 facilitated some much needed expansions in some of the school's departments. The first floor of the building was devoted to Geology and a Geological museum. The administrative offices and the library were moved to the second floor of Guggenheim Hall. Eventually, the library would take up one-half a floor of the building, and a library building would become a necessity. The third floor was devoted to a 700 seat auditorium, classrooms and offices. After the moves, the Old Main Building was almost entirely devoted to Chemistry. Eventually, Old Main and two adjacent buildings were referred to as the Chemistry Buildings. Hill Hall now occupies the site of those three buildings. During the late 1960s, Guggenheim Hall needed extensive renovation. State policy was that if renovation of a building would cost more than half of the value of the building, the building was to be replaced. Because of the building's historic import, the rule was waived and renovation began. The legislature appropriated $252,000 for the renovation, but that amount was not enough to cover the costs. The school then appealed to the Guggenheim Foundation and was informed that, in keeping with the intent of the Foundation's bylaws, the Foundation could not appropriate funds for buildings because funds could only be used for fellowships but that the director of the fund had spoken of the request to Mrs. Guggenheim and enclosed her personal check for $100,000 with his reply. The building is topped by a square bell tower which chimes the hours. The bell tower is itself topped by a gold domed cupola. In 1954 when the Colorado State Capitol Building's gold dome was recovered with gold leaf, some of the left over gold leaf was used to recover the bell tower cupola atop Guggenheim Hall. In 1988 the dome was reguilded again with a gift from the graduation class of 1987 and a gift from Amax, Inc. of two gold bars from their Sleeper gold mine.