Apr 042013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

With a large portion of Colorado State’s academic buildings being located in the Center Avenue corridor from Engineering to Yates, it’s easy to forget about the buildings on the east side of campus that show the university’s true age. This week’s exploration took me to one of these older structures: the Shepardson Building.

Home to the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Shepardson Building is located on University Avenue just east of the Plant Sciences Building. Charles N. Shepardson, after whom the building is named, graduated from CSU in 1917 and taught animal husbandry (the practice of breeding and raising livestock) at CSU from 1920 to 1928. He died in 1975.

In comparison to Johnson Hall, the last building I explored, the Shepardson Building is much more spacious inside and far less confusing to navigate. Like many of the old buildings on campus, stepping inside seems to bring you decades into the past.

I entered Shepardson through two heavy wooden front doors into a hallway that spanned the width of the building. The opposite wall contained quite a few doors – bathroom doors, custodial doors, office doors, mysterious unmarked doors, and finally what I was looking for – stair doors.

Old desks crowd part of the hallway on the second floor.

Old desks crowd part of the hallway on the second floor.

The stairwell struck me as very large. Atop the first half-set of stairs was a door to a tiny balcony overlooking the east side of the Monfort Quad area. Unfortunately, it was locked – cool balconies always seem to be there just to tease people. I continued up to the second floor and found a hallway much like the first, yet this one was far more interesting.

Much of the second floor appeared to be dedicated to miscellaneous furniture storage, but as I walked farther down the hall, I discovered that it also must be home to the landscape architecture department. Stunningly detailed models and drawings lined the walls – there were cardboard designs of water features, spiny wooden jellyfish sculptures and various other futuristic-looking pieces. It all seemed so out of place in such an old building, let alone in the agriculture building.

A model of a jellyfish sculpture

A model of a jellyfish sculpture.

Having been impressed with the second floor of Shepardson, I figured I might as well check out the third. Sadly, I encountered a locked door at the top of the stairs with a note giving numbers to call if you needed to be let in. Not wanting to be a nuisance, I decided to explore the basement instead.

When I entered the basement from the east set of stairs, I found another area of furniture storage with a few random locked doors. Since the middle of the basement was some kind of research lab (also locked), I had to go up to the first floor to get to the west stairs and back to the basement. I encountered more locked doors in the main section of the basement, and when I turned to go back upstairs I saw a spooky white door with a screen leading to the dark space under the stairs. Hoping to find something mysterious and exciting, I got out a flashlight and looked through the screen – just boxes and pipes.

The locked door leading to a storage area under the stairs

The locked door leading to a storage area under the stairs.

Having seen all that I had access to, I walked outside to go to my first class of the day. I felt sad after seeing that so much of the space in Shepardson seemed left to storage and basically forgotten. However, it’s an exciting prospect – if the same is true for all of the old buildings on campus, we essentially have a treasure trove of history right in our backyard. I can walk into almost any building and find the past preserved within its walls – so long as the doors aren’t locked.

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