Colorado School of Mines – Stratton Hall

Address900 14th St., Golden, 80401
QuadGolden, 1965 (1994)
SectionS34, T3S, R70W
SourceCSM Office of Public Information, 1/5/81; CSM Office of Institutional Advancement, 6/20/89; Norman, C., "Golden Old and New," p. 43.
Initialdate1997-04-23 00:00:00-06
HistoryStratton Hall was named for W.S. Stratton, who came to Colorado in 1868 and settled in Colorado Springs. He was a carpenter, and he also did some prospecting. He worked as a carpenter or mechanic or whatever job was available for two-thirds of the year and prospected during the last third. He came to the conclusion that he needed more knowledge to be successful at prospecting. He decided that he needed to learn geology first. Mr. Stratton pursued his education at Colorado College, and there is mention of him taking a course in metallurgy at the Colorado School of Mines. On July 4, 1881, he staked two claims, the Independence and the Washington, in an area where he thought the outcropping of granite he found might be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He was right, and as was his nature, he said nothing but went about developing his claims. It was impossible to hide the kind of strike he made, and that was the start of the Cripple Creek gold rush. After taking a goodly sum from the mines, he sold the Independence to a British company for $10 million. In 1896 he was so sure Bryan and "Free Silver" would win the presidential election, he announced publicly he would wager $100,000 on the election. Fortunately, most people in Colorado agreed with him and no one took the bet, because William McKinley won the election. Stratton was a philanthropic man, and several institutions of higher education benefitted from his largesse. It was at this point that the story of how the building on the Mines campus now named for him came about. A short history of Stratton and the building was written by Fritz Brennecke in December 1968. Mr. Brennecke wrote of President Chauvenet and the President of the Board of Trustees, Frank Bulkley, going to see Mr. Stratton in 1899. (Mr. Stratton was a Board member at that time, and he served until 1902. From 1901 until his death in 1902, Mr. Stratton was President of the Board of Trustees.) The discussion was about the financial plight of the school. According to this version, Mr. Stratton gave them a check for $25,000 and told them to use it as needed, so they used it to pay for a good portion of what was to be Stratton Hall. The CSM Office of Institutional Advancement in its June 20, 1989 report told a similar story except that the $25,000 was given to be specifically applied to a building to teach metallurgy. They also report this was the first private gift of money to the Colorado School of Mines. It evidently was noticed because the legislature referred to Mr. Stratton as ". . . the first of Colorado's wealthy mining men to recognize the importance of the Colorado School of Mines to the chief industry in Colorado." It doesn't end there. The third story, a January 5, 1981 news release from the CSM Office of Public Information, relates a slightly different version of the story. This story relates that the legislature appropriated $60,000 for the next year for the school, but they neglected to pass the enabling legislation. At that point, again in 1899, President Chauvenet and Mr. Bulkley went to see Mr. Stratton, who gave them a check for $25,000 (this amount is the same in all the stories) to keep the school running. The money kept the school solvent for a year, and there was even some left over for the growth of some laboratory facilities as well as the start of the Assay building. The story goes on to relate that two years later the legislature appropriated, and enabled, $22,300 for the building. The cornerstone was laid in November 1902, two months after Mr. Stratton died. It was fitting that the foundation of the building named after a mining man was made with crushed slag from the remains of the Golden Smelting Works.