Legendary lampposts

One of the first known photos of the Graff Main Hall lampposts appeared in the 1919 La Crosse yearbook with the junior class posing in front of the south entrance.

Old Main lights restored

Historic lamps are once again enlightening those entering the south entrance to Graff Main Hall.

The rustic, four-armed posts, taken down last fall, returned to the building’s south entrance March 28 after being refurbished and rewired for LED lighting.

Poellinger Electric workers install the restored lampposts in front of Graff Main Hall on March 28.

The historic lampposts are nearly 100 years old, about a decade younger than the university’s original building that opened in 1909. Documents from Murphy Library’s Area Research Center show that the Board of Regents of Normal Schools approved the lamppost at an annual meeting held July 27, 1917.

The Board passed Resolution 203, introduced by C.S. Van Auken: “That the resident regent at the State Normal School, at La Crosse, be authorized to receive bids for the installation of lights at four entrances of the main building, the cost of same not to exceed $700, and to be charged to Land and Land Improvements, appropriation for which was made by the Legislature of 1913, and which was non-lapsable.”

The following academic year proceedings reported that the Electric Supply & Construction Co., located at 218 Main St. in La Crosse, was awarded $12 for lamps and $650 for posts. The posts were cast at the George Cutter Co. in South Bend, Indiana, as noted at the base of the posts.

While the four posts originally cost $672, the removal, refurbishing, retrofitting and refinishing with LED lights of two of the original posts cost approximately $16,000. UWL staff worked with the UW System Historic Preservation Officer while making the updates, says Doug Pearson, executive director of Facilities Planning and Management.

With limited space between Graff Main Hall and Wing Technology Center, Pearson says it was decided that the remaining two, four-armed posts would be retired and replaced with new LED lighting posts matching the rest of campus. On the other side of the building, the two replicas of the original four were also replaced by single post LEDs.