Published: Thursday, July 17, 2003
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 01:06
In President William Oxley Thompson's first annual report, he emphasized the need for a women's building on campus. A few years later, in 1908, when the first women's residence hall at Ohio State was completed, the Board of Trustees named it Oxley Hall.
At first, the Board of Trustees did not hold much hope for Kenyon Hayden, the female architect who designed the building. In fact, they insisted on assigning her a male assistant. On their first day working together, after trying to reason with him, Hayden locked him out of the room and proceeded alone.
With only the help of one draftsman, she finished the plans in just 27 days. Hayden then supervised the construction and in the end came in under budget for both cost and time. The final cost of the building was $63,159.35.
For the first 58 years, Oxley Hall served as a women's residence hall. During its first year, the 111 residents paid between $1.50 and $2 per week to live there.
In 1967, Oxley Hall was converted into research offices after it was decided that remodeling the building would be too expensive. In return, the university paid the Dormitory Revenue Fund $75,852 per year for rent.
Oxley Hall's latest renovation began in 1989 and aimed to modernize, yet preserve the building as it was when it was a residence hall. The windows, doors and roof were renovated to follow the pattern of design in 1908. The lounge areas, parlors, bay windows and fireplaces are meant to reflect how students would have lived in those early days of OSU. Soon after renovation was complete in 1991, the building became the center of the International Affairs offices.
One story that has lasted through all of the renovations, is of the ghost that haunts Oxley Hall. It is said the ghost of a female resident, whose body was found on the third floor sometime in the 1930s or 40s still roams the halls. It is still unknown whether she was the victim of a murder or committed of a suicide.
It is known that many strange things have happened in the building. Doors that were locked have been unlocked and lights have flicked on and off in the middle of the night when no one was there. These reports of mysterious occurrences have not stopped since the Office of International Affairs moved in. More recently, there have been claims of windows going up and down by themselves and a series of unconnected lights swinging in the same direction at the same time.
Whether the ghost stories are true, as one of the first buildings on campus, it still stands at the corner of 12th and Neil avenues as a true testament to OSU's history.