5 Famous IU Spots and the Origin of Their Names

Have you ever pondered over the history of IU landmarks or wondered to whom a certain building’s name is dedicated? Perhaps you are a prospective student who is just eager to learn more about IU’s campus. Well, you have come to the right place! By the time you’re done with this post, you’ll have a little more knowledge about the places you pass on campus every day.

  1. Sample Gates


    Sample Gates (lynn Dombrowski, Flickr)

    This iconic piece stands on the western side of IU as the entrance to the Old Crescent, which is the oldest part of campus. The construction of the gates was put on hold until the 1980's because many students, faculty, and staff at IU complained that the money should go towards academics, not an unnecessary decoration. After much bickering, Edson Sample (the university’s Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid at that time) donated money to fund the whole project. The name of this famous IU landmark was dedicated to him and his parents.
     
  2. Dunn Meadow/Woods


    Dunn Meadow/Woods (by Tripp, Flickr)

    This lovely part of campus has deep roots in Bloomington history. In 1823, Samuel Dunn Jr. settled on what is now Dunn Meadow with his wife, Elizabeth. Their acreage extended all the way through Dunn Woods; they lived and farmed on this land. State Seminary (now IU) and the Dunn’s were practically neighbors, so as the school expanded, it continuously bought more acreage from Dunn’s plot of land. The meadow and woods honor the name of the family that worked on that terrain.
     
  3. Swain Hall


    A view of the back of Swain Hall taken from Dunn Woods (StevenW, Flickr)

    This is perhaps one of the most confusing buildings you will ever walk into at IU. Yes, the architecture is beautiful, especially the bay windows in Swain West, but there is a 50% chance you will get lost and somehow end up in the dimly lit basement. This historical building is dedicated to the ninth president of IU, Joseph Swain. During his presidency (1893-1902) at this glorious institute, he founded a number of buildings, such as Kirkwood Observatory, Kirkwood Hall, and a gymnasium for men. Today, Swain West is home to the Department of Physics, as well as the Department of Astronomy. Swain East also houses a number of offices for the Department of Mathematics.
     
  4. Ballantine Hall


    Ballantine Hall in Spring (StevenW. - Flickr)

    If you don’t like stairs now, then you’ll really abhor them by the time you have had a couple of classes in Ballantine. This 10-story academic building gets its name from Professor Elisha Ballantine. Besides teaching, Ballantine also served as acting president in 1884, and as Vice President for two years after that. The construction of Ballantine Hall was completed in 1959.
     
  5. Neal-Marshall Black Cultural Center


    Marcellus Neal  Frances Marshall

    This cultural center, which is located on the back end of the IU Auditorium and in front of Jordan Ave., honors the first two African American students who graduated from IU: Marcellus Neal and Frances Marshall. Neal graduated in 1895 and went on to teach mathematics and Marshall graduated in 1919 (it was still uncommon for females to be attending college at this time) and taught English afterward.

I hope this post enlightened you on some of the better-known places on campus. Make sure to show off your new knowledge to a friend next time you’re both trudging up the stairwells in Ballantine or walking back to campus from Kirkwood!

Related WeAreIU Blogs:
Study spots on and off campus!
Why You Should Care About IU Landmarks
Study spots on and off campus!

About The Author
Christina MercedesMedia major, class of 2020

Hi! My name is Christina, and I'm a junior at IU. I am majoring in Media with a concentration in Film Production and a minor in Spanish. My goal is to create engaging content by sharing my knowledge and parts of my college experience here on We Are IU. Whether you are reading a post about applying for scholarships, or just looking for ideas on how to decorate your dorm, I hope you find my work and the blogs of other writers very helpful in your search!