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Herring Hall - History
Construction, Architecture, Architect, and Contemporary Occupants
Entrance Door

Herring Hall was built in 1903 for $6,675, $5,000 of which was donated by the Copper Queen Mining Company. The gift was arranged by Colonel William Herring, legal counsel for the company. It is the second oldest building standing on the University of Arizona Campus. Understanding Herring Hall’s history as a functional, utilitarian, and flexible interior space on the campus was important in creating an appropriate response to the needs of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences while maintaining the historic integrity of the building. The building has seen many uses throughout the years. It has responded to a need of the campus for auxiliary or utilitarian spaces for a variety of functions. Originally built as the Men’s Gymnasium (1903 – 1925), Herring Hall subsequently housed the Women’s Physical Education program (1925 – 1937), the Drama Department (1937 – 1956), the School of Journalism and the Radio/TV Bureau (1956 – 1970), and the Landscape Architecture Program (1970 – 1991). In the last decade the basement has been used by College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Graduate Students, and the remainder for storage purposes.

The first floor was constructed for an open gymnasium which remains the character- defining interior space. The basement was used for lockers and showers. In 1906, a balcony was added to the interior volume of the first floor at the west end. In 1925, an addition was constructed on the east end of the building. This was ultimately removed for the construction of the Marley Building in 1988. In 1956, the building underwent considerable interior renovations for the Radio and TV Bureau. A tower was constructed to the east of the building, where it remained until the late 1980’s. The Landscape Architecture Program made few changes in the building, other than filling in the balcony space for offices. The basement was modified in 1984 by improving the existing stair access and adding an additional external stair access for fire code reasons.


Herring Hall is a small, Roman Revival building constructed of red brick. The four Doric columns of the west-facing front are of concrete with rough stone bases and capitals, unadorned, painted white, and supporting an entablature and pediment, which is also painted white. The entablature wraps the entire building. The well-proportioned building measures 40’ x 80,’ and rises to 30’ under the 5:12 roof pitch. The wooden roof deck is finished in composite zinc/lead sheeting. On the south side is a small rotunda approximately 14’ in diameter. The entrance has a solid arch, a transom, and standard doors (replaced with this building rehabilitation project). It is flanked by heavy, concrete-framed, wood, double-hung windows. There are segmental arched openings on the sides of the building with 6/6 wood, double-hung windows. A volcanic stone base supports the flanking walls. The brickwork on the building is common bond with seven stretcher courses per header course.

Herring Hall Architect

David Holmes (1874-1967) was born in St. Louis and was influenced by the work of the turn of the century architects making their mark in Midwestern cities. Holmes moved to Tucson in 1898 to take a teaching position in manual training and mechanical drawing at the Territorial University (later the University of Arizona) School of Mines. Teaching and securing equipment for the University’s first shop building dominated Holmes’ first few years until he was requested to design a gymnasium building in 1903, purportedly to save the cost of hiring an out-of-town architect. Eventually named Herring Hall, this modified temple structure was designed in the Roman Revival style to represent a sense of permanence to the fledgling university campus. During subsequent years, Holmes took on new responsibilities, including building supervisor for the University’s growing campus, interim university president, as well as architect for independent commissions, such as the Desert Botanical Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, built in 1903.

The architectural firm of Holmes and Holmes was responsible for over 30 buildings in the course of its eight-year tenure in Tucson. The projects represented the range of functions necessary for the expanding town including residences, commercial blocks, hotels, churches, hospitals, and educational buildings, requiring versatility matched by no other Tucson architect at that time.

At a time when Tucson was the largest city in Arizona and New Mexico, and many of its large buildings were designed by out-of-town architects, the firm of Holmes and Holmes provided the competency necessary to shift that trend to local architects. Holmes’ significance also lies in his direct response to the hot, arid climate at a time of imported, and inappropriate, stylistic themes. Holmes’ work adhered to a functional philosophy of architecture, characterized by craftsmanship and a simplicity of expression without the excesses of ornamentation; not unlike the early 20th century Tucson it represented.

Contemporary Occupants of Herring Hall

The Campus Herbarium

A herbarium is a scientific museum housing preserved specimens of plants, mostly as pressed specimens mounted on special sheets of stiff archival paper. The collections of herbaria constitute the basis for all work in plant taxonomy; they are also used extensively by ecologists, biogeographers, natural resource scientists, anthropologists, and pharmacologists.

The University of Arizona Herbarium consists of two major collections; the vascular plant collection and the mycological collection. The Vascular Plant Herbarium was established by James Toumey in 1890, the year before the University opened its doors to students, and 13 years prior to the construction of Herring Hall. The Herbarium now houses over 450,000 specimens, constituting the largest collection of plants from the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Between 2,000 and 2,500 persons visit the Herbarium every year, including students, associated scientists, agency personnel, and the general public. Each year faculty and staff at the Herbarium provide thousands of identifications of plants for county agents, researchers, ranchers, farmers, and many state residents.

The Herbarium, housed in the basement of the Shantz building for the past 42 years, had outgrown its available space. The renovation of Herring Hall by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences not only unites one of the University’s oldest institutions with one of its most historic buildings, but also provides a home that will permit the Herbarium to continue to grow and serve the University and state for the next 100 years.

Until about 1945 the mycological collections were a part of the general herbarium. Some time after Dr. Paul D. Keener joined the faculty as mycologist, he moved 17 cases containing fungal specimens to a back room of Forbes 104, Keener’s office when he died in 1966. Dr. Robert L. Gilbertson joined the faculty in 1967 and in 1971 moved the Mycological Herbarium to its location in Shantz 101. By 2004 the Mycological Herbarium has grown to over 40,000 accessioned collections, the majority collected by Dr. Gilbertson and his students. Other important collections in the Mycological Herbarium are the rust fungi collections of Dr. George B. Cummins.

Visit the Campus Herbarium website at

The Campus Arboretum

The Mission of the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum is to preserve, manage, enhance, and expand a vital collection of plants in an active, urban Sonoran Desert setting. The Campus Arboretum showcases the historic, scientific, aesthetic, environmental, economical, conservation, and educational value of these plants within the larger Tucson urban forest and the American Southwest.

In the 1800's cactus and creosote surrounded Tucson, Arizona. When the University of Arizona was established as the state's land-grant institution, ornamental trees, shrubs, and cacti were planted to beautify the grounds (and cut down on the dust!). Today's campus holds over 500 individual tree species.

Ever since 19th century UA faculty member Robert Forbes planted the olive trees that still shade the older campus areas, plants of all kinds have enriched campus life. The University of Arizona holds a truly unique collection of plants from arid and semi-arid climates around the world. Many campus trees are the largest specimens in Arizona and have been designated as Great Trees of Arizona. The UA’s Heritage Trees are stately links to the University's past. Several are unique to the entire Southwest; a few were the first of their kinds to be planted in the Western Hemisphere. In September 2002, the UA Campus Arboretum was officially dedicated and accepted as a member of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta.

The Campus Arboretum administrative office is located on the first floor of Herring Hall immediately adjacent to the front entrance. Visit the Campus Arboretum website at


University of Arizona West Campus Historic District Nomination Form, 1986
Herring Hall Feasibility Study, 1999. Burns and Wald-Hopkins Architects
David Holmes, a Brief Biography, 1999.
R. Brooks Jeffery, Coordinator, Preservation Studies, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Steven P. McLaughlin, Director, Campus Herbarium
Elizabeth Davison, Director, Campus Arboretum

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