Save Old Main

The University of Arizona’s original home gets its biggest makeover in more than a century

By:
Jeffrey Javier and Ford Burkhart

Why does Old Main touch so many hearts?

Whether our memories are of a cool resting place or a romantic spot for engagements, Old Main draws our affection and tugs at our heart strings. To generations of Arizona alumni, its traditional red bricks tell the tale of Wildcat legacy and spirit. 

Now, sounds of pounding hammers and the unfurling of architectural blueprints fill its usually quiet halls. Something big is brewing.

The crews are taking Old Main back to near its original form, preserving its aesthetics while adding much-needed functionality.

An enduring symbol of an institution committed to education and service, this historic treasure is one of the oldest public buildings in the state of Arizona. When classes began in 1891, it housed the entire University, including labs and a sleeping room.

But, age and wear have weakened Old Main. The foundation is damaged and must be repaired. The entire veranda — which has protected the building from the desert sun for 122 years — is now condemned. To finance the project, the UA has launched a fund drive to raise $13.5 million in gifts. Impassioned alumni and friends support the effort, saying this building is for the people and should be refurbished by the people. Gifts of any size are appreciated as a promise to ensure that Old Main remains the front porch of the University.

Together, we can restore the building’s original charm and grandeur and help the bell ring once again in the tower. Work will include architectural updates — bold towers, arches, elegant chimneys, and a striking red French mansard roof. Interior renovations to lighting and décor as well as modern technology updates will create a contemporary atmosphere.

After the renovation is complete, alumni and guests can overlook the Mall at events on the second floor, enjoying scenery from what are arguably the most-loved porches in Arizona. Art and cultural exhibits will highlight the UA’s traditions and creativity.

Restoration guarantees that Old Main is central to a burgeoning campus life whether for prospective students learning of the University’s rich heritage or current students meeting with admissions staff and counselors to discover their academic paths.

As a symbol of Wildcat spirit, energized alumni and friends are playing an integral part in this all-important transformation. A revitalized Old Main leaves a legacy for our children and grandchildren, inspired by pride and love for this iconic landmark. 

Save Old Main Giving

Help preserve Old Main’s heritage! With your financial contribution, Old Main will be more beautiful and purposeful than ever. 

Alumni have several opportunities to participate in the Save Old Main project at all levels of giving.

For more information about gift and naming opportunities, call the UA Foundation at 520-621-9065.

To make a gift online, please go to saveoldmain.org.

Gifts made payable to UAF Old Main can be mailed to: Save Old Main Campaign, UA Foundation, 1111 N. Cherry Ave., P.O. Box 210109, Tucson, AZ 85721-0109.

Find out more about online giving options at saveoldmain.org.

Share your favorite stories about Old Main at saveoldmain.org.