(all in Tacoma except 1898–1899)
1890–1891 Block bounded by South I and J streets and South 21st and
23rd streets
1891–1895 Ouimette Building on the corner of Yakima Avenue and South
10th Street
1895–1898 Palmer House on the corner of South Ninth and G streets
1898–1899 At Portland, Ore., in connection with Portland University, also
a struggling Methodist college. Portland University closed in
1899–1903 Palmer House on the corner of South Ninth and G streets
1903–1924 Sixth and Sprague avenues
1500 North Warner Street, the current campus
Seattle Campus, 1971–1985
Filling a demand in Seattle for an evening program for persons seeking
degrees in business administration, Puget Sound opened its Seattle
campus in 1971 in the Prefontaine Building near Third and Yesler.
The campus ultimately offered bachelor’s and master’s degrees and
enrolled between 650 and 700 students at its height. The Seattle
campus closed at the end of summer 1985.
University of Puget Sound School of Law, 1972–1994
The opening of the law school was President R. Franklin Thompson’s
last major achievement before he retired in 1973. The law school,
which enrolled some 900 full- and part-time students, was a major
component of his plan to build a comprehensive university for the
Puget Sound region. But the university was soon to pursue a different
path. Although the early idea was to bring the law school onto the
main campus, that never happened. The law school operated first on
South Tacoma Way and then in the Norton Clapp Law Center—the
renovated Rhodes Department Store building—in downtown Ta-
coma. In 1993 the trustees sold the law school to Seattle University.
Secrecy surrounding the transaction created a firestorm in the Tacoma
community and on the campus.
McChord Air Force Base, Fort Lewis, Tacoma General Hospital, Bremerton,
McNeil Island Penitentiary, Olympia, and The Evergreen State College
Between the 1960s and the 1980s Puget Sound offered degree course
work variously at each of these locations and at other locations as
well. These programs, mostly business administration, public admin-
istration, and teacher training, existed out of momentum behind
President Thompson’s comprehensive vision for the university and
because they made money to help support main-campus programs.
But in January 1983 the trustees agreed with President Philip M.
Phibbs that it was in the best long-term interest of the university to
phase out these operations so that resources and energies could be
focused on main-campus academic programs. All of these ancillary
operations, including the Seattle campus, were closed by 1988.
1884 At the first conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in this
region, Bishop Charles Henry Fowler suggests creating a college
within the geographical bounds of the conference.
1886 The conference votes to establish the new college at Port Townsend
in response to the city’s pledge to provide land and funds.
1887 The conference renews the search for a location after Port
Townsend fails to meet the terms of its pledge.
1888 The conference establishes Puget Sound University at Tacoma
when the city pledges $22,000 and land. Articles of Incorporation
are signed on March 17. The school includes an academy (prep
school) and a liberal arts college.
1890 Classes begin for 88 students on September 15 in an elegant new
building costing $60,000, built on the downtown block bordered
by South I and J streets and South 21st and 23rd streets.
1891 The first students graduate from the academy. But the college
loses its new building for lack of funds to repay the loan. The
building is leased, and two years later sold, to the City of Tacoma
to become the John A. Logan grade school. Later the magnificent
building is torn down and McCarver Junior High School is built
on the site. The college rents the Ouimette Building (later known
as the Imperial Apartments), “quarters of a cheaper grade.”
1892 The new president, Crawford Thoburn, writes in the 1892–1893
catalog: “For the first year college sessions were held in the large
and elegant University building on I Street, but the location prov-
ing somewhat inconvenient, owing to the absence of street car
facilities, a removal to the Ouimette Building, on the corner of
Yakima Avenue and 10th Street, was effected at the commence-
ment of the last academic year. This arrangement will continue
in force for two years more, when the original location will be
re-occupied.” It never happened, as hopes for saving the building
faded and the lease of the building turned into its sale.
1893 The first students, four in number, graduate from the College of
Liberal Arts. A deep economic recession severely constrains the
college’s ability to borrow or raise funds. Eighteen of 21 Tacoma
banks fail.
1894 Land in what later becomes University Place becomes available “at
reasonable rates and on easy terms.” University trustees envision
there “a delightful college community and residential suburb of
Tacoma.” In an effort to raise funds for building, they create the
University Land Company to sell lots around the proposed campus.
This venture fails, and the meager proceeds from the sale of lots
are instead used to help pay the college’s operating expenses. In
1949, lots 1, 2, and 3, Block 102, Second Division, University Place,
which the college had held onto for 55 years, are sold and the
proceeds are put into endowment. This sale represents an unusual
bridge of sorts between the two corporate entities, the old Puget
Sound University and the modern College of Puget Sound.
1894–1895 At the end of the academic year Browder Brown is the first
College of Liberal Arts graduate to complete all four years of the
Puget Sound University curriculum. Classes are taught in both the
Ouimette Building and in Palmer House, so called because it is the
former Palmer Hotel, located at South Ninth and G streets.
1895–1896 Classes are taught at Palmer House through 1903, with the
exception of 1898–1899.
1898–1899 Fall semester classes are taught at Portland, Ore., in coopera-
tion with Portland University, another small, struggling Methodist
college. Some hope this will lead to permanent integration as a
solution to the financial problems of both schools. But it is clear by
December that the consolidation effort is a failure. The university
returns in March 1899 to its South Ninth and G streets Tacoma
location, greatly weakened in the interval, both academically and
financially. President Thoburn dies in May.
1900 The Women’s University League is formed to help support the
university. The Women’s League Flea Market, begun in 1968 to
fund scholarships, is an ongoing North End tradition.
1900–1903 For the last three academic years of its corporate existence,
Puget Sound University is in such dire financial straits that it is
turned over to Dean Orman C. Palmer and Professor Charles Boyer,
who serves as president. The men become responsible for paying
the bills. Anything left over they get to keep. As strange as this
arrangement appears, Palmer and Boyer keep the school alive.
1903 The Alumni Association sells the building at South 9th and G
streets, which it has been leasing to Puget Sound University.
With no place to hold classes and no money, Puget Sound Uni-
versity comes to a corporate end. The annual conference of the
Methodist Episcopal Church creates a new entity, the University
of Puget Sound. The Alumni Association purchases land at Sixth
and Sprague avenues where a building is constructed and classes
begin in the fall.
The first Music Building—
the original, and only,
structure on the present
campus when the
university obtained
the site in 1920
President’s House under
construction, 1950