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Illinois State University
Illinois State University
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ISU’s Old Main building was razed in 1958 but much of the foundation remains under the Quad. What about the rest of the building?


Old Main Bricks

For instance, what happened to all the of bricks used to construct this towering three-story structure? Were the bricks pictured here, recently found in a Normal creek bed, once part of Old Main??

Photo by Dustin Lloyd

Read on to find out as archaeology graduate student and Old Main GA, Dustin Lloyd explores the Life History of Old Main Bricks.


Glass Bottles

Other physical remnants of Old Main exist beneath the Quad on the original site, in the University Archives, as well as in alumni memorabilia. In addition, artifacts from a 1982 excavation of the Old Main site are housed in over a hundred boxes in the collections of the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, IL.

Jessica Griffin, the Old Main Project's first graduate assistant, completed her Master's thesis in 2012. In it, she analyzed glass bottles from foods, beverages, and medicines excavated from a cistern located beneath the south entry of the Old Main building. Her research involved the inventory, organization, cataloging, identification and description of glass sherds and bottles in the Illinois State Museum Old Main collection.  

Jessica investigated each glass item based on distinctive characteristics and compared these to the 1906 and 1920 Illinois Glass Company catalogs. When possible, she found images of the complete bottles, and incorporated them into her comprehensive inventory, which was used for the final interpretation. In her thesis(Griffin 2012), Jessica answered research questions about the diet and medicinal practices of the students, faculty and staff who attended ISU from 1860 to 1932.

Jessica continues to display the artifacts and descriptions from her research on her blog which is updated monthly. To see Old Main artifacts and excerpts from her original research, visit Below is a small sample of artifacts Jessica has investigated.

For information on Archaeology, visit:


Old Main Project
Normal, Il 61790-4660
Phone: (309) 438-8668

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