UA Minute in History: Old Main

If you know the University of Arizona, you probably already know that Old Main is the heart and soul of campus. But here’s some facts about this historic building you may not know. Video by Jasmine Demers, Vanessa Ontiveros, Beau Leone and David Skinner Music Credit: Bensound "Creative Minds"

If you know the University of Arizona, you probably already know that Old Main is the heart and soul of campus. But here are some facts about this historic building you may not know.

I’m Jasmine Demers with the Daily Wildcat, and this is your UA Minute in History.

In 1886, two professional gamblers and a saloon owner purchased 40 acres of land, which then became the University Arizona. Ground was broken on Old Main in 1887, and it was the first and only building on campus when the school opened in 1891.

With 32 students and 6 faculty members, Old Main originally contained several classrooms, labs, a kitchen, a mess hall, a photography dark room and dorms. Far before bicycles or skateboards were used on campus, students rode horses to class and tied them to hitching posts outside of the building. 

By 1938, Old Main fell into disrepair and was abandoned and condemned by the City of Tucson. It was actually scheduled to be demolished, but the U.S. Navy repaired the building in 1942 and turned it into a training center during WWII. In 1945, the Navy restored the building for $20,000, and it became a university once again.

Being the oldest building on campus, Old Main also has some ghosts in its closet. Literally. The spirit said to haunt Old Main is known as Carlos Maldenado. 

According to legend, Carlos was a construction worker supervising the building of Old Main. He was known to stay overnight in the unfinished building. One morning, his workers found him dead in a chair with his throat cut on the site.

Fellow construction workers over the years have reported seeing the ghost of Carlos while renovating the building, including the most recent team to work on Old Main in 2014. 

Others have reported seeing the ghost of Carlos over the years, including students and staff. Because of its haunted history, Old Main is a spot on the annual Ghosts of UA tour.

I’m Jasmine Demers. Thank you so much for watching this UA Minute in History.


Follow the Daily Wildcat on Twitter



Share this article