Syracuse University Buildings:

Holden Observatory

Holden Observatory
Holden Observatory, SU Photo & Imaging RS 8789

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


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.