Vignettes about Events & People


Ireland Hall was originally the High School that opened on Sept. 7, 1892 for 194 students.

Ireland Hall

On July 10, 1890, construction began on what was then a new Arkansas City High School. Charles Sedgwick, an architect from Minneapolis, Minn., designed the building. Ten months after the start of construction, the masonry work was completed and the building was ready to be roofed.


In laying stones, it was deemed wise to have the men use a vermilion pigment in the mortar, to bring out the beauty of the stones and the pattern in the stonework. Unfortunately, the pigment was not weather proof, and the rains later caused the color to run and give a crimson tint to the stones, hence the name "The Red School House." It appeared to be more like Colorado limestone than Silverdale stone. But it did add uniqueness to the building.


The building known today as Ireland Hall was first opened for school on Sept. 7, 1892, to 194 students. Finishing touches were not completed until 1893. Total cost of the building was estimated to be $38,000. At the beginning of the 20th century, enrollment had grown significantly in Arkansas City. A manual training school was completed in 1913 and stood on the east side of Third Street between Fifth Avenue and Washington Avenue. Four years later, an addition was made to the south of it. And by 1922, a new high school was ready for occupancy, and the 1890 building was to become a departmental school to handle the sixth grade in all of the elementary schools.


This continued until 1941, when sixth-graders were returned to their respective neighborhood schools.


From the early 1920s to 1971, the 1890 schoolhouse was used as a U.S.O. headquarters for people in the military, a teen town program, and the American Red Cross used the basement for storage.


From the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s, the building steadily deteriorated. In 1949, Unified School District authorities wanted it torn down, but many former students and teachers, along with concerned citizens, delayed any action.


In 1971, the title to the building was transferred from USD 470 to the college. In 1974, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared a state landmark. The college made minor repairs to the building and used it for social studies classrooms for a few years. Also, part of the building was used for the carpentry program, and the Endowment/Alumni Office was located there for six months in spring 1978. But upkeep posed serious problems. At this time, the Arkansas City Historical Society and concerned citizens started a move to have it renovated and made into a cultural arts center. A fund-raising campaign ensued, and the college’s Board of Trustees appealed to the city, state, and federal governments for financial assistance. By the summer of 1982, nearly all of the work was finished at an estimated cost of nearly $500,000.


The cosmetology and criminal justice programs were moved in for the start of the 1982 fall semester. The building was officially dedicated on Dec. 12, 1982, and named after W.H. "Pat" Ireland, a strong community supporter who had served on the college’s Board of Trustees for nearly 10 years.


Today, Ireland Hall is home to the Criminal Justice, Cosmetology, and Institute of Lifetime Learning programs. A unique feature of Ireland Hall is the carillon chimes located in the bell tower. The original chimes were installed in 1982 and later damaged in an electrical storm. They quit all together after a second storm in 1990. The chimes were replaced in 1991.


There never was a bell in the tower prior to the chimes, and when the building was completed, there were plans to put clocks in the tower. But clocks were never installed. A computer that has a built-in precaution against an electrical storm operates the chimes. Nearly 400 songs can be programmed into the computer, which selects them randomly at noon and 4:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday for a 15-minute concert. The chimes also sound on the hour and half-hour.

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