Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Clarke Observatory

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Institution Name: Mount Union College
Original/Historic Place Name: Clarke Observatory
Location on Campus: east end of campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1924original construction Roller, Russell
1968demolition; rebuilt Unknown
2003relocation to Bracy Hall Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: none specified
Walls: none specified
Roof: none specified
1924-present (2007)observatory

Significance: architecture, education, history
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The original facility named Clarke Astronomical Observatory was built in 1924 and was named in honor of Dr. George Washington Clarke, for many years a dedicated professor of Latin and Greek languages. This first observatory was razed to make room for the Timken Physical Education Building in 1969.

Located at the south end of East Hall, the second observatory in memory of Clarke was built in 1968. The instruments, used in both observatories, were the gifts of Elmer E. Harrold of Leetonia, Ohio, who in 1924 donated them to the College.

The principal telescope now in use at the observatory has an interesting history. In 1897, Mr. G.N. Sagemuller, an astro-instrument maker from Washington, DC, built to specifications a telescope designed for Charles Ezra Hequembourg, a pioneer industrialist and enthusiastic amateur astronomer from Dunkirk, New York. Shortly after its installation, the telescope was pronounced by Professor William Brooks of Smith Observatory in Geneva, New York to be the finest in any private observatory in the United States. Following Hequembourg's death in 1908, Harrold purchased the telescope, building, and contents.

In 1968, the telescope was completely rebuilt and modernized under the direction of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the College, fully restoring the original mechanical excellence. In May of 2003, the Clark Observatory was once again relocated on Mount Union's campus. It is now part of Bracy Hall, a new natural sciences facility on campus scheduled opened in the fall of 2003. Bracy Hall will house the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics and Astronomy.

The observatory is listed in the United States Naval Observatory's registry of history American telescopes.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Osborne, Newell Yost. A Select School: The History of Mount Union College and an Account of a Unique Educational Experiment, Scio College. Alliance, OH: Mount Union College, 1967.

Saffell, John E. Wake the Echoes: An Updated History of Mount Union College. Alliance, OH: Mount Union College, 1996.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Government Offices
Other: Office of Public Affairs and Marketing

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