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Hill Building was built in 1879 and was originally known as the Administration Building. In its early years it held classrooms, administrative offices and, on the third floor, the halls of the Franklin and Philomathean societies.
On December 23, 1889, around 6:30pm, the building caught fire. Fortunately the blaze was extinguished with minor damage. Unfortunately, on Tuesday November 4th, 1913, a far more destructive fire was detected around 2am. The building was reduced to its outside walls. Shortly thereafter, it was decided to rebuild the structure. This involved decreasing the building's height to two floors and erecting an iron frame to carry the load of the floors. This work was completed, and the new building was dedicated in October 1914 as Hill Memorial in honor of Dr. John Wesley Hill.
In 1922, a power plant was added at the rear of Hill Building. Heat for the campus had been provided for several years by a small steam plant behind Hill. In 1914, two gas-powered generators had been added, but by 1922, this facility was inadequate. The university's generating capacity had more than doubled to 100 kilowatts, and extra heating capacity was included to handle several buildings under consideration. The plan began operation in November 1922.
The university catalogue of 1929 noted that Hill housed the administrative offices of the College of Liberal Arts and Education and the Alumni Office. In 1931, they were joined by the YMCA.
The College of Engineering moved into Hill in 1936. The Alumni Association remained, along with the physics department and "some other departments of the College of Liberal Arts."
In 1953, the College of Engineering moved to the former Ada High School several blocks north of campus. This provided space in Hill for the biology, physics, and mathematics departments. The opening, in 1970, of the Meyer Hall of Science allowed the biology, physics, and mathematics departments to leave Hill. Their place was taken by the departments of business administration and economics, and the history and political science departments. During the summer of 1986, the recently established College of Business Administration was moved to Huber, and the sociology and psychology departments from Huber to Hill.
As of 2002, the building's basement is occupied by the university print shop, the first floor by sociology & psychology, and the second floor by the history, political science, and criminal justice departments.