Holden Observatory Special Collections Research Center

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white brick building with attached circular shaped building with silver domed roof

Holden Observatory, SU Photo & Imaging RS 8789

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Building Announced: Fall, 1886

Construction Completed: September 1887

Dedicated: November 18, 1887

Dedication Speaker: Dr. Simon Newcomb, noted astronomer

Named For: Charles Demarest Holden, Class of 1877

Materials: Onondaga Limestone with lead-covered dome

Architect: Archimedes Russell

Size: 30 feet by 32 feet with 30-foot high tower

Funding: Erastus F. Holden, coal merchant and SU trustee

Original Location: south side of hill west of Hall of Languages

1991 Relocation: 190 feet southwest of original location

Notes: The second building on campus, the observatory was named in memory of the donor's son, Charles Demerest Holden, who died in 1883. E. F. Holden also donated $25,000 as an endowment to help maintain the building. When completed, the observatory held an eight inch Alvin Clark telescope, 3 inch reversible transit, a comet seeker, chronograph and chronometer. The telescope was housed in a tower with a rotating dome. In 1980, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In June 1991, L.D. Dexheimer & Son Inc. moved the 320-ton building to a new location at the rate of 4 inches an hour, an effort that lasted three days. The $200,000 move was necessary to make room for Eggers Hall.