When it opens in fall 2020, the new science complex will be the largest academic building on TU’s campus.

A half century ago, Towson University’s student newspaper, The Towerlight, suggested that perhaps the school should employ a new motto: “As We Grow.”

Actually, those three words would have been as relevant 100 years ago as they are today. Building, so it seems, is a part of TU’s DNA.

In 1913, the state of Maryland purchased 88 acres outside the town of Towson for the construction of a new campus for the Maryland State Normal School (prior to that the school was housed at various locations around Baltimore after its founding in 1866). The property was composed of five farms, and was surrounded by orchards, stately summer homes for well-to-do Baltimore families, and yes, more farms. How that small footprint became the university we know today is the central focus of the Special Collections and University Archives’ newest exhibit, called, with a nod to The Towerlight, “As We Grow.”

It will be on display on the fifth floor of the Cook Library through January 28.

At the time of the sale, various structures were already in place, including Glen Esk, which served as a home for the school’s presidents from 1915 until 1970. When campus was finally completed in 1915, three new buildings opened: Stephens Hall, the Power Plant and Newell Hall. For the next 30 years, the school would add one building per decade: Richmond Hall in 1923, Van Bokkelen Hall in 1935, and Wiedefeld Gymnasium in 1942.

An influx of male students after World War II sparked a need for dormitories for men, so Ward and West halls were constructed in 1951. The rest of the decade saw the addition of the Media Center, which was originally the library, and Prettyman Hall, a dormitory for women.

When the school transitioned from a teachers college to a liberal arts one, enrollment skyrocketed. More than 2,500 students enrolled in the fall of 1963, and by 1968 that number had grown to 6,473. By 1973, the student population topped 11,000.

To keep up with that tremendous growth, it was imperative that the physical campus expand. The state purchased additional land for the school, bringing campus to its current 329 acres. Between 1963 and 1973, the campus added 10 new buildings, which meant that older structures had to make way for progress. Wiedefeld Gymnasium was demolished to create space for the current Cook Library. The Cottage, a beautiful but outdated house, was razed so construction on Smith Hall could begin. The Maryland and Pennsylvania railroad, which had run through campus until 1954, was abandoned and eventually removed.

By 1977, the school had finished this period of intense growth, and construction of new buildings slowed.

Twelve years ago, the construction of the College of Liberal Arts kicked off another round of expansion, one that continues to this day. Since 2006, 15 buildings have been constructed, other standing buildings have been improved, and Towson University has extended its reach beyond its campus to the city of Towson and Bel Air, through a collaboration with Harford Community College.

Progress continues with the current construction of the new science building, scheduled for completion in 2020, and the University Union expansion, set to debut in 2021.

Growth always has been, and seemingly always will be, part of the Towson University story.

By Felicity Knox ’94

 1. | The first panel of the Special Collections and University Archives’ newest exhibit, “As We Grow.”

2. | Completed in 1942, this gymnasium was the first constructed on campus. When it opened, it hosted not just intramural games for the students, but also was the setting for performances and dances. Exams and class registration were held there. In 1968, Burdick Hall, a new gymnasium with more amenities, was opened. The old Wiedefeld Gymnasium was torn down to make way for the current Albert S. Cook Library.

3. | Originally known as Waveland, this summer house was built for a former state’s attorney for Baltimore County. For 50 years it was used as a residence, provided extra classroom space and sometimes served as the health suite. But eventually, it stood in the way of progress. The house was razed in 1964 to make space for the new science building, Smith Hall.

4. | Twelve years ago the construction of the College of Liberal Arts (pictured next to the Center for the Arts) kicked off another round of expansion.