Park Hall

In 1932, Oswego's facilities doubled with the opening of the Industrial Arts building, today known as Park Hall.

The manual arts training program began under college founder Edward Austin Sheldon to develop the instructional aids of the object teaching method he helped popularize. Sheldon saw this as an opportunity "to train teachers to use tools readily in the construction of such simple apparatus as may be required in science work for the lower grades," and thus Old Main (now Sheldon Hall) included "a shop finely equipped for this work" supervised by the "remarkably competent" and "invaluable" Dr. Richard Keller Piez, Sheldon wrote in his autobiography.

The second building on Oswego's campus was organized and equipped by Joseph C. Park, a 1902 Oswego alumnus and expert in his field. Not only a key professor, Park had a broad influence on the field of industrial arts. Alfred University recognized his outstanding work in presenting him with an honorary doctor of sciences in 1932. That same year, the author of many books and articles also was named one of 100 outstanding industrial arts leaders in the U.S. through a nationwide survey of teachers.

Park headed and taught the entire manual training and industrial arts curriculum with the aid of student assistants between 1902 and 1910. After 1910, multiple teachers were added to the industrial arts program including instructors of woodworking, printing, industrial education, plumbing, concrete and auto mechanics. Park also oversaw an Army Training Corps academy on campus during World War I. But the basement of Old Main became unsuitable for the expanding program and the process of obtaining authorization for a new building was started.

Park devoted countless hours to the development of the Industrial Arts building, securing resources to outfit the shops with valuable modern tools including "one swing saw, $100; one combination saw bench, $150; one jig saw, $85; one jointer, $150; one power grindstone, $50; electric motor, $200;" added to "sixteen wood turning lathes formerly introduced at a cost of $640," then-Principla Isaac B. Poucher said.

On August 28, 1930, grand ceremonies included then-Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt laying the cornerstone for Park Hall. The dedication ceremony for the $300,000 building at the 1932 Commencement was attended by Frank P. Graves, the state commissioner of education who hailed "the most famous school of teacher training in the United States if not the world," seven members of the state Board of Regents and other officials in addition to faculty, staff, students, families and the community. In introducing the building, Park noted it would help enable each generation to develop its own skills, whatever changes in technology brought.

Due to rising student enrollment and an unprecedented building boom, Park Hall underwent an addition -- originally known as Ontario Hall, now Wilber Hall -- to meet demand for students and materials. Through the decades, Park Hall has remained at the center of what has evolved into Oswego's renowned technology education program.

-- Kathleen Davis, Class of 2012