By: Kobi Hudson –
Throughout Rocky’s history, the buildings around campus have had many different uses. Eaton Hall is one building in particular where this is especially true.
Eaton Hall, located in the center of campus to the East of the Bair Family Student Center, began construction in 1908 and finished in 1910. The building’s architects were J.G. Link and C.S. Haire of Billings, Mont.
Just as RMC was known as Polytechnic Institute after its creation, Eaton Hall similarly started out known as Science Hall. Science Hall was later changed to Eaton Hall in 1948, in honor of the Eaton Brothers, Lewis and Ernest, the founding fathers of Polytechnic Institute. Eaton Hall was the first permanent building on campus and housed classrooms and administration, just as many of Rocky’s buildings do today.
“I love the history of the building. I also like the old-time feel of
it and at the same time there is a bit of a dichotomy,” said Andrew Niemantsverdriet, the Linux System Administrator of Rocky, whose office is in the basement of Eaton Hall.
In the original basement of Eaton, one could find a restroom and two classrooms, which are now the offices of Academic Computing, Human Resources, and Leap, along with others. One of these classrooms was where the original physics lab was held.
On the first floor of the building, one could have found what were originally two classrooms to the west, a boys cloak room directly ahead, and two more classrooms to the east, which were separated by a hall in the middle from the president’s office and two smaller offices beyond the two classrooms. On the first floor one can now find Student Accounts, Student Records, the Business Office/Cashier, and others.
On the second floor of the building, the west side held a full-width assembly room, a cloakroom and girl’s restroom to the north, along with two classrooms to the east. Out of the two eastern classrooms, the southern one, was used for the chemistry laboratory. On this floor, there are now several departments, including the Advancement Department and Degree Completion and Distance Learning.
“To walk into this building every day, you can’t help but think about the history within these walls. This is the oldest building here at Rocky Mountain College, which was the first college in Montana. Eaton Hall is more than just a building: it represents the beginning of a commitment to excellence that is the cornerstone of RMC,” said Jenny McPhail, RMC’s director of marketing, communications, and public relations, who has an office in Eaton Hall.
The interior doors were originally dark-stained wood with half light glass above and paneled below – a few of these still remain on the first floor. The building also was originally roofed with metal rather than the asphalt shingles seen today. The entire building has a square footage of 10,560. The walls of the building are sandstone to the first wall and lined with brick.
After Eaton Hall was constructed, it remained the only brick building for the next 50 years. The buildings that were constructed after Eaton Hall were built with sandstone rather than brick. This was due to one of Rocky’s major leaders, John Losekamp, who preferred the look of san stone.