Delving into our University’s quirky history



The Eternal Flame, located on the western side of the Main Quad between Lincoln Hall and the English Building. The Eternal Flame is just one of many campus landmarks with an interesting backstory.

By Ella Schindler, Assistant Copy Chief

The University, peacefully situated among miles and miles of cornfields, has a unique personality many people fall in love with as soon as they move onto campus. I know I definitely did. However, many students walk around campus throughout their four years here not knowing the stories that lie within its corners. Here, I’ll give you an inside look into some of the interesting stories our university has to offer.

The State Farm Center

The State Farm Center, the dome-shaped, pillow-like structure far on the south side of campus, is the home of the Illini basketball team. Besides being the venue for these games, numerous Convocation events and traveling performances have passed through its doors. However, what most people don’t know is it was designed by a University alumnus.

Max Abramovitz graduated from the University’s School of Architecture in 1929. While studying here, he designed the State Farm Center, formerly known as Assembly Hall, for an architecture class project. His professor failed the design he turned in, deeming it not realistic or visually pleasing enough. Then, when he turned the design into the University administration, they chose it as the optimal design for the new center. If that isn’t a story of failure leading to success, I don’t know what is.

The Eternal Flame

Ever pass by the half-circle-shaped bench sitting between Lincoln Hall and the English Building? The one with the column in the center of it, holding up a Victorian-style lamp? The story behind this little quirk is a rather romantic one.

University legend holds that if you kiss someone while sitting on this bench, dubbed the Eternal Flame, you will have eternal love and end up with them forever. People even write their names on the side of it sometimes, to really commemorate the moment. So grab your bae and get to it!

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    The Undergraduate Library

    As aforementioned, our university and the state of Illinois really cherish their corn. This is especially visible in how much the University adores its Morrow Plots, the oldest experimental agricultural field in the United States, which we are fortunate enough to have created on our campus. Because of these plots’ high status, even the Undergraduate Library had to revere them.

    When the University was building the UGL next to the plots, they realized, after building its initial base, that it would block the sun’s rays from hitting the field. Because of this, they decided to build it mostly underground. Yup, it wasn’t just so our library would be unique.

    Halfway House

    At first glance, Halfway House, located on Mathews Avenue between the newly renovated Natural History Building and Noyes Laboratory, might just seem like a quaint little overhang shading some benches for people to sit on and enjoy the view. However, there is more to this structure than meets the eye, specifically because of its history.

    Halfway House was initially built as a bus stop for electric cars riding around Champaign-Urbana. Because of its central location on campus, originally in front of the Illini Union and thus halfway between Champaign and Urbana, the stop became a meeting place for many community members. In 2014, it was removed from the campus, but it is back now after the renovations of the Natural History Building, completed last year. It is once again a great place to stop by and talk with your friends!

    That completes my quirky tour through some of the University’s best iconic spots. There is so much more to learn than this, too, from the stories of the Altgeld Bell Tower to the English Building’s ghosts, but I’ll leave that to you to uncover. Happy exploring!

    Ella is a senior in LAS.

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