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A skeleton and a suicide — the foundation of Deady Hall's construction



As the University of Oregon’s oldest building, the 136-year-old Deady Hall looks more like a towering haunted mansion in comparison to nearby Lillis’ sleek design. And, with a façade like that, it’s only to be expected that it houses at least one haunting tale.

Take for example the story of Deady’s construction. Many building projects deal with the drama of funding shortages — few find actual skeletons in the basement.

A report in the 1877 issue of the Oregon State Journal published after the building opened in 1876, cites Professor Thomas Condon, the same man who would later have Condon Hall named after him, finding an extremely well-preserved skeleton in the building’s basement.

@@if this is a direct quote from the journal, i am leaving the grammar, ap style, etc. alone. i called; no answer as of 4 [email protected]@“A post mortem examination was held by the Professors and the verdict rendered was, that if the chief mourners were found they could have a vacation for the remainder of the term,” according to the Journal.

No mourners were found, but the skeleton was identified as A. Oakley Hall, a New York man who had been missing.@@for how [email protected]@ No explanation was given for how the remains ended up in Deady’s basement.

As if one mysterious death wasn’t enough, it turns out the building’s funding shortage issues had mortal consequences. Within the same year of Deady’s unveiling, the building’s architect William W. Piper committed suicide by jumping from a train while traveling to Ohio to visit his sister.

His firm had been unable to compete with other groups in Portland as a result of the UO initially being unable to pay him his full salary.

Despite its dark origins, Deady (along with Villard) was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1977. It was named after Judge Matthew Deady — the president of the UO’s Board of Regents and Oregon’s first federal judge.


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