In 1890, the Board of Trustees commissioned Merry L. Pence to survey prospects for a campus lake. The early campus catalogs describe the university lake as deriving from the “natural conformation of the ground and an abundant supply of water from the Maxwell Spring.” These two things rendered the construction of an artificial lake with a boating course a quarter of a mile in length, “thus providing for a beautiful sheet of water to add to the attractions of the landscape.” It was six feet deep at the Limestone Street end and three feet deep at the other.
|Barker Hall, left and the Main Building, right.|
In the summer, students boated on the lake and in the winter, they ice skated. But by 1917, the lake had become an eyesore for the campus and it had essentially become a swamp. Discussions by the Board of Trustees to either restore it as a lake or turn it into a botanical garden ensued. The problem was resolved in the 1920s during preparation of the ground for building the Alumni Gymnasium and McLean Stadium.