Imagine for a moment that it is the 1880s. The original President’s home stood near the east end of White Hall classroom building. There were only three campus structures, 318 students, and 17 faculty. To supplement President Patterson’s $2000.00 salary he was allotted pasturage for his cows. In between the slope of the President’s house and what was then Winslow Street was the land where Patterson kept those cows. By 1892, students began scheduling football games with neighboring colleges. In 1893, Kentucky beat Tennessee 56-0, beginning a long-standing rivalry. The lure of football soon overtook Lexington and a spectator sport had begun. So it was on this spot, where the cows were eventually evicted, where wooden stands were erected, and the first football fans cheered.
From 1908-1915 every football season was a winning one. In 1916, Stoll Field was officially dedicated in honor of Richard C. Stoll.
By 1918, World War One had changed campus culture and the University acted quickly to become a combined military post and academic institution. Stoll Field took on a new persona during this time and held army barracks for the soldiers.
During the 1924 football season, McLean Stadium was built around Stoll Field. Though modified, the stadium was used for football games through the 1972 season after which they were moved to Commonwealth Stadium. There are many places on campus where our history is apparent, but this spot inspires images in my mind and the sounds once associated with this place. As university archivist, it is my obligation to preserve the collective memory of UK. With that said, for this moment, imagine a house-lined street bordered by a field of cows, the early cheers of football fans, soldiers’ yells, the resonance of a stadium crowd, and the contemporary sounds of the marching band. Lasting longer than these words, I hope that this marker will serve as a reminder and symbol of this important piece of campus landscape and culture.
Text modified from the Historical Marker Dedication speech by Deirdre Scaggs - images from the University Archives
WUKY radio story