Hidden agenda

A rare opportunity to go where few have gone before

Call it a journey to parts unknown. On April 20, curious students got the chance to take a Facilities Services- and Campus Security-led tour of 20 places on campus that most people never see. The event was suggested by graduating ASUPS President Alex Israel, partly because it’s kooky fun and partly to help students get to know Facilities and Security personnel they might not otherwise meet. Two tours were offered—one during the day and, for nocturnal wanderers, one after dark. Among spots seen: The so-called wind tunnel in the subbasement of the library, where a 20 m.p.h. breeze blows continually because ventilation air passes through there, and the university steam plant, which is much cooler to look at than it sounds. These reminded us of our own favorite five rarely visited but neato nooks and crannies on campus:

1. The top of the Thompson Hall tower
It is not, as widely reported, the highest point in Tacoma. That distinction goes to Indian Hill, at 482 feet above sea level. But the view is amazing; you’re right up there among the breezy tops of the campus firs. Just ask Professors David Scott and Martin Jackson of the math and computer science department, whose offices are in the tower, one floor down from the observatory.

2. McIntyre Hall’s top-floor theater storage
Better than Grandma’s attic. Items observed there on a recent visit: a gilded fireplace mantel, a very orange couch, and a costume collection that would weaken the knees of any dedicated vintage-clothing shopper, all of it neatly organized by type and era. Cards above the racks read: “short dresses 1940–1950,” “long and formal dresses, contemporary to 1920,” “blouses, present,” “military uniforms,” and one label that left us wondering whether it was a physical description or an attitudinal commentary —“distressed clothing.”

3. The university archives in Collins Memorial Library
Examples from the trove:

  • A copy of the first yearbook, Klahowya, the dedication of which reads, “To Our Loyal Alumni, whose deeds must be the chief glory of their Alma Mater, and whose noble achievement must be the inspiration of those who follow them, this volume is lovingly dedicated by the class of 1913.” The yearbook was not published under the name Tamanawas until 1920.
  • A copy of the first issue of the student newspaper, The Maroon, October 1903. The publication became The Trail in 1911.
  • One of the few existing copies of A Practical Mystic, the memoir of Edward H. Todd, UPS president from 1913 to 1942.
  • Adelphian scrapbooks from 1952 to the present.

4. The Warner Gym Attic
This surprisingly large space was the headquarters of the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps until the program closed in 1989. Scratched and penned among the ancient rafters can be found the signatures of students and a solitary, hand-painted poster.

5. The Kilworth Chapel belfry
Which does indeed house a bell, and a long and appropriately creaky rope to ring it with. The bell has an interesting history. It was cast in 1718 in Sheffield, England, for use on the steamship Frontier. It hung in the Taylor Street Methodist Church in Portland, Ore., between 1850 and 1868, and then served churches in Walla Walla and Waitsburg, Wash.