Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Perkins Observatory

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Institution Name: Ohio Wesleyan University
Original/Historic Place Name: Perkins Observatory
Location on Campus: 3199 Columbus Pike
Date(s) of Construction:
1924original construction Perkins, Hiram M. and Carrie B.
Designer: Hiram M. & Carrie B. Perkins
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Romanesque revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete
Walls: finish brick
Roof: tile
ca. 1924-present (2006)observatory
ca. 2004-present (2006)classroom

After donating Perkins Student Observatory to Ohio Wesleyan University in 1893, Astronomy professor Hiram Perkins dreamed of a much larger reflecting telescope in a new Perkins Observatory four miles south of Delaware. Ground was broken in May 1923, and the building was completed in 1924. A 69 inch mirror, then the third largest in the world, was cast by the United States Bureau of Standards. Maintenance of the observatory proved too large for OWU, however, so a cooperative arrangement was made with the Ohio State University to maintain this research institution, which lasted for years.

The original reflecting mirror and telescope were replaced with smaller mirrors and moved to the Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona, where weather was more conducive to astronomical research, although the observatory is still owned and operated by Ohio Wesleyan University.


Hubbart, Henry Clyde. Ohio Wesleyan's First Hundred Years. Hammond, IN: Conkey Company, 1943 .

Murchland, Bernard, ed. Noble Achievements: The History of Ohio Wesleyan University--From 1942 to 1992. Delaware, OH: Ohio Wesleyan University, 1991.

Ohio Historical Society. Ohio Wesleyan University Student Observatory. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1985.

Tull, Barbara Mitchell. 150 Years of Excellence--A Pictorial View of Ohio Wesleyan University. Delaware, OH: Ohio Wesleyan University, 1991.

Williams, Judith B. Ohio Wesleyan University Thematic Group. National Register of Historic Places nomination report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1985.


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Last update: November 2006