NIU history contains interesting stories

By Sabryna Cornish

Since 1895 when the NIU doors opened, history has been in the making.

There are many interesting facts about NIU, the following are only a few.

‘—NIU wasn’t always called NIU. It first was called Northern Illinois State Teachers College in 1895. Then, in 1921, it became the Northern Illinois State Normal School. In 1967, the university became as it known today, Northern Illinois University.

‘—The tale of NIU’s gargoyle that sits in the garden next to Altgeld Hall is interesting. It is said that on the eve of the first graduation ceremony, lightning struck the building and the gargoyle, which was then sitting on top of Altgeld Hall, fell to the ground.

No one was hurt and the gargoyle was placed back on top of the hall.

The next year on the eve of the second graduation, lightning struck the gargoyle a second time and it fell again.

After the second incident, it was left on the ground in the garden by Altgeld Hall where it can be seen today.

‘—Altgeld Hall is named after former Illinois Gov. John P. Altgeld. In 1895, Altgeld signed the piece of legislation that made NIU possible.

‘—The first president of NIU was John W. Cook. The fourth president was Karl L. Adams, who Adams Hall is named after. The Holmes Student Center is named after the fifth president, Leslie A. Holmes. Presiding NIU President John La Tourette is the eighth president.