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Parmenter Hall was the first building constructed on the campus grounds. The foundation was laid in 1865, and the cornerstone ceremonies were held during commencement in June, 1866. The chief address was given by Marcus J. Parrott, the first congressman from Kansas, but construction was subsequently delayed for lack of funds. The 1870 report indicates that the third story was partially completed at that time, and by 1871 the building had been enclosed. Thus in March the students and faculty left Old Castle Hall for the new facility. Only the first story was ready for use, the building was used in that condition for about ten years.
The decade of the 1880s brought full utilization of the building and increased enrollment for the college. In 1882 a tower and belfry were placed on the building and a large bell was installed, a gift of the citizens of the community, which was then known as Baldwin City. Another building was begun in 1884 as enrollment increased to 350.
The uses of this building and the names applied to it changed over the years. For about fifteen years it was The College Building. Later it was the Science Hall and then the Old Science Hall. In 1938 it was remodeled and then named Parmenter Hall after Charles S. Parmenter, a long-time professor of biology and university administrator. Uses have included administrative offices, a gymnasium, theater, museum, classrooms, laboratories, and music rooms.
Parmenter Hall is significant for its more than 100 years of service in educating the students of Baker University. In addition, the building has been a landmark in the community. Its graceful cupola rises above the trees, identifying the community from a distance. Because the different construction phases are so readily apparent, the building tells much about the history of the small college.
Ebright, Homer Kingsley. The History of Baker University. Baldwin, KS: [Baker University], 1951.
Hall, Charles L., and Richard D. Pankratz. Old Castle Hall [Baker University]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1971.