Amarillo College is a campus full of rich history.
AC was established in 1929 with the help of James Guleke and George Ordway pushing to introduce a state House bill to establish a junior college district in the Amarillo area.
Originally, AC was located downtown in a space rented out for classes until Ordway Hall was constructed on the corner of Washington Street and 22nd Avenue and the school was relocated.
Ordway Hall was the first administrative building of AC.
“Ordway Hall was the entire college,” said English Professor Margaret Waguespack.
The building was named after George Ordway, who not only helped bring about AC but also became the first president of the board of regents.
Ordway Hall construction began in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration Project, a Great Depression-era program that helped create construction jobs, including buildings and roads.
Guy Carlanader was the Chicago-trained architect who designed Ordway Hall with an “L-Building Plan” in his signature art deco style, a geometric architectural style from the late 1920s and 1930s. The southwest corner of the building has a four-story tower.
Ordway Hall houses an auditorium and a conservatory theatre. Above the entrance to the auditorium are the words “MUSIC,” “OPERA” and “DRAMA.”
A plaque in front of that entrance says the interior of the building includes materials such as buff and red brick walls and terrazzo floors with diamond and mosaic patterns.
It also states that deco-style elements such as chevrons and parallel bands accent the cast stone exterior.
Upon entering another west entrance, there is a plaque with three columns of names under the dates 1941 and 1945 with the following:
“Dedicated to the former students of Amarillo College who gave their lives in World War II.”
The north side of the building houses the Amarillo College Museum of Natural History. It was established in 1977 by Richard Howard, a biology professor who contributed most of the butterflies in the exhibit, which features not only Texas animals but those throughout the United States.
On corners of the building on the west side are a couple of gnomes halfway up the building. One is seen reading, while the other is writing. According to Waguespack, many years ago, students would rub them for good luck before a test.
Ordway Hall has been registered as a Texas Historic Landmark since 2008 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The AC Museum of Natural History is open in Ordway from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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