John Sutton Hall: The Symbol of IUP

John Sutton Hall has been the main building on the campus of IUP since it’s inception in 1875, at the time the school was known as the Indiana State Normal School. An advertisement in the Democrat on July 13, 1876, spoke highly of John Sutton Hall, the sole building on campus as follows:

“The building is remarkable for its being well lighted, well ventilated, and for its general air of cheerfulness. It has been pronounced by Prof. Wickersham, the Superintendent of Public Instruction as unquestionably the best building of its kind in the United States.”

The first catalogue for 1875 listed that tuition, room and board “…including light, heat, and washing,” was $70 for the spring term, $75 for the fall term, and $80 for the winter term. Over the next few years the school in order to cut down on some expenses had to dictated that students who washed more than ten pieces of personal items — this excluded towels and napkins — had to pay an extra 50 cents per dozen per week. Student life at the time was much different than today, but one should keep in mind that this was a different time period and everything dealing with the school was run out of just one building!

John Sutton Hall was constructed out of bricks that were fired on a corner of campus and the architecture of the building allowed for the following: lecture and recitation rooms, laboratory and library, reception rooms, recreation room and and chapel, kitchen and dining hall, student dormitory, faculty offices and apartments, water-closets, society rooms, laundry and heating plant. Originally John Sutton Hall was built to accommodate 400 students, but the initial enrollment in 1875 was 150 students. In 2016, the enrollment at IUP was 12,853.

John Sutton Hall continued to be a staple on campus until 1974 when the decision was made to demolish John Sutton Hall because renovation costs soared and there was limited funds allocated to renovate. But the community rallied around John Sutton Hall created “The Committee to Save John Sutton Hall; and on September 19, 1975 the Board of Trustees received a letter indicated that as of September 17, 1874 John Sutton Hall was included on the National Register of Historic Places. And so John Sutton Hall was saved.

A banner made during the Save Sutton Campaign

Today John Sutton Hall serves the purpose of administration offices, faculty offices, and boast Gorell Recital Hall and the Blue Room used for receptions and concerts.

Some interesting facts from the First Catalogue of the State Normal School in 1875 gives us today a time to pause and consider the difference in education and how we live what seems like a different life.

  • Students were not to correspond, walk, or ride with those of the opposite sex nor meet in the reception room, parlor or elsewhere, except by special permission from the Principal and the Preceptress.
  • All wrestling, running, scuffling, or other rude and boisterous noises, were forbidden at any time.
  • Students were required to sweep their own rooms daily, previous to the sweeping of the halls in the morning, and they would not be allowed to sweep dust into the halls at any other time. 
  • Students were not allowed to throw water, dirt, or anything offensive or dangerous from the doors or windows of the building at any time.
  • Students were not allowed to keep carbon oil, camphine, or burning fluid of any kind in the building and all lights were to be extinguished by 10:00 PM.

John Sutton Hall holds a lot of history within it’s walls, this posting is just a snapshot of its beginnings and the beginning of student life on campus. University life has expanded a lot since the first class came through in 1875 and it is sure to continue to change in the years to come.

Sources: John Sutton Hall–A Victorian Restoration; First Catalogue for Indiana State Normal School