By Lyndsee Cantly:
Amarillo College is full of rich history and a plethora of stories gathered throughout the many decades it’s been open. A good amount of these stories seem to come from the two oldest buildings on campus, Ordway Hall, built in 1936-1937, and Russell Hall, built in 1939.
“Most of what I know about the history of [Ordway] comes from visiting with faculty that were here longer than me,” Becky Easton, an English professor said.
Easton said that she’s heard plenty of stories about when Ordway Hall was the only building on campus, including a story about an old fireplace that students and faculty frequently read in front of.
The building’s slightly younger companion, Russell Hall, on the other hand, originally served as a gymnasium used for various sports as some professors recalled.
“I know Russell has had a history with dance, fencing and some other sports due to the gyms that we still have part of,” Stephanie Jung, an art professor said.
Steven Cost, an art professor, explained that many of Russell’s original traits had been kept throughout the building, including the original gymnasium flooring.
Both buildings also include original architecture from the 1930’s on the outside of each, including building sculptures and art deco lettering from their time period.
“I’m really fascinated by the sculptures on the outside of Russell, which include the words ‘valor’ and ‘honor’ and various athletic models,” Jung said.
“My favorite part of all are the scholarly gnomes that are on the corners of some of the buildings,” Easton said.
Easton went on to explain that the gnomes are depicted reading and writing, and she feels that they are a very good representation of what is celebrated in Ordway Hall.
As they stand right now, both Ordway and Russell are now serving bigger purposes for the school. Ordway is now home to the Washington Street campus’ English department and the school’s Writer’s Corner.
Russell is now a habitat for the art department, and various other classes like dance, fencing, and even English as a second language courses.
Both buildings seem to be fulfilling their intended purposes well.
“I think that what I really like about the building is, we’re in a historical building, finished in 1939 and after all these years later, we can still function nicely inside the building,” Cost said.
“It really is an honor to work in such a historical building,” Easton said.