Saturday, April 14, 2012

In Which Campus Building do BYU Students Pray the most?

There is a joke on BYU campus that I heard several times while I studied there.  There are a few variants, but the gist of it is "In which campus building do BYU students pray the most?".  The answer is the Grant Building.  If you don't get it, don't worry, I didn't either the first time I heard it (mainly because I didn't know which building was the Grant Building).  The Grant Building is one of the busiest building on campus, but it is better know as the testing center.  It is the largest college testing center in the United States and the location where BYU students take almost all of their tests while at college (hence all of the praying).

I mentioned the grant building during the last post about the Brimhall Building.  The Grant Building is the building on the left in the picture of the Brimhall and the Maeser Building.  Here is an additional picture of it from 1925 and what it looks like today:

Courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University


The Grant Building, built in 1925, was originally a library.  There is an interesting history on Wikipedia about the history of the Harold B Lee Library (the current library at BYU) which includes a bit of the history of the Grant Building.  Here is what it says:

"The Harold B Lee Library began as a small collection of books kept in the office of Karl G. Maeser during his time as principal of then Brigham Young Academy.  The small library relied almost exclusively on gifts, donations, and free material from the U.S. Government.  When Maeser's office was destroyed by a fire in 1884, his library collection went with it.  By the time the Education Building was completed in 1892, a new library had been formed and a room was provided on the second floor of the new building.

"The academy later became a university, which spurred the library's growth until it filled the third floor and much of the second floor of the Education building.  In July 1924, the alumni association reported that $125,000 had been appropriated to construct a new library building to be erected on University Hill.  The new Heber J. Grant Library was subsequently dedicated on October 15, 1925 with 40,000 books and 35,000 pamphlets."

The Grant Building is somewhat small, with the first floor consisting mostly of classrooms and the second floor being a large open room (now the testing center) where the library was located.  By the 50s, the the library had outgrown itself and several little libraries were created in buildings across campus to accommodate the growing number of books.  In 1961, the J. Reuben Clark Library (which is now named the Harold B. Lee Library) was finished, which moved the library from the Grant building.

Besides being a library, the Grant Building has had several different uses.  After the library moved, it was a museum by the College of Biology and Agriculture, until it was moved to the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum (which is really cool and kind of creepy because it is filled with thousands of dead, stuffed animals, including a liger named Sheba).  For a while, the building housed the BYU Honors Program and was the first location of the BYU Faculty Center.  Currently it is home to the testing center, the Religious Studies Center and a few classrooms.  I have to say that I love the testing center.  Essentially a test is given during a specific time period.  It allows students to take the test anytime during that time period, whenever it is most convenient for them.  The actual room where students take tests is quite pretty and I really enjoyed sitting, relaxing, and looking at the architecture once I had finished a test.

For all you gentlemen that get five o'clock shadows or ladies that like to wear jeggings, the testing center can be a very stressful place because it was the primary place where the honor code was enforced.  When I started at BYU, if you were not clean shaven you were required to leave and come back when you had shaved.  It always created quite a bit of controversy.  However, a few years ago it became a National Testing Center (which means it could administer standardized tests for individuals who were not BYU students) and as a result the honor code was not enforced as strongly as it was in the past.  Currently there is just a sign and you may get a few dirty looks and a "please shave next time."

I have really enjoyed researching the buildings on BYU because there is so much interesting information that I have found on the internet about them.  Here is a bunch of extra stuff that I found about the Grant Building.  First of all, some people claim that the building is haunted.  For a nice scary story about the Grant Building, click here.  I found an interesting website with flashcards for the different building name abbreviations around campus.  If you are looking to memorize them, then click here.  Also, someone went around and took pictures of letters that are found around BYU campus in the different buildings (it actually is pretty well done).  The letters A, G, J, and O were all found at the Grant Building.  You can see all of the letters by clicking here.

Finally, I came across a interesting group of pictures of BYU, including one of the Grant Building.  I am not in love with them because they are extremely photoshopped and very saturated with color, but I'm sure that some will enjoy.  The individual that took the pictures claimed that he did so to highlight the interesting architecture around campus, which is funny because I feel like architecturally BYU is a very dull campus except for a couple of buildings (the Grant Building being one of those).  You can see the collection by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this post! I sent you a message via email with the letters. I've seen this done before and it is very cool. The testing center still makes me break out into a sweat and it's been over 30 years since I've been in there. I can still hear the noise of the dox matrix printers. I love the history behind the BYU buildings like you do and know that there was much sacrifice to build these buildings. I know they are smiling down from heaven as you write these comments!

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