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Armour Institute of Technology

Chicago, Illinois


E-Travel has recently placed digital copies of the Integral, the early Armour Institute yearbook on the website.  The Armour seal is from the 1894-95 Department of Library Science bulletin.


Armour Institute is the result of the “Million Dollar Sermon” preached by Dr. Frank Gunsaulus at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Chicago.  He announced to his congregation that for a million dollars he could build a university which would serve all people, not just the elite.  Prominent meat packer Phillip Danforth Armour gave him the million dollars with the condition that Gunsaulus serve as the first president.  Initially the Armour Institute offered programs in mechanical, electrical and mining engineering.  The mining program was dropped after one year, but civil engineering was added in 1899, chemical engineering in 1903 and fire protection in 1903.  An architecture program was offered in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago.  To reach more of the students Gunsaulus and Armour had in mind, the school added evening classes for those men who worked during the day; a summer session of regular classes; an Academy of Science, serving as both a preparatory school and an adjunct school; and correspondence courses in association with the American School of Correspondence. 


The 1905 Integral shows 501 students (all male) in the Institute, plus 39 in the architecture program, and 73 in the Academy.  Evening classes totaled 340. The largest number of 1905 graduates was in electrical engineering. 


Armour Institute attempted to provide an all-around college environment for its non-traditional student body.  The Institute had chapters of two national social fraternities—Phi Kappa Sigma and Delta Tau Delta.  The campus also had chapters of professional fraternities—the Chemical Engineering Society, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the Civil Society, and the Senior Mechanical Society.  Students published a newspaper—the Fulcrum—in addition to the Integral.  Armour Institute offered opportunities to participate in music and drama.  There was a Camera Club and a chapter of the Y.M.C.A.  The social calendar at Armour was filled with dances, “smokers,” banquets, an opera, and a concert.


The aftermath of the Great Depression and changing educational needs caused Armour to begin talks with Lewis Institute, and the two merged in 1940 to become the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Main Building is now the Administrative building for the Illinois Institute of Technology.  (Photo by Joe Ravi,   <>)

Bricks and Mortar

The Main Building of Armour Institute was begun in 1900 and completed in time for the opening of classes in 1903.  It stands on the corner of 33rd Street and Armour Avenue.  Initially it housed all departments of the Institute. 


As the school grew, the need for more space for laboratories and research areas increased.  In 1901 the Machinery Hall was added to house Mechanical Engineering.  In the same year a laboratory building was added.


The Armour family contributed more funding to create a sports field for the school.  September 1904 saw the dedication of Ogden Field, named for J. Ogden Armour. 







        Colors: Yellow and Black


In 1905 Armour Institute fielded intercollegiate teams in football, basketball, baseball, and track.  Students played tennis and golf and bowled on an intramural basis.


The College Football Data Warehouse shows Armour Institute playing football almost from the start.  Among early opponents were Chicago, Purdue, Northwestern, and Michigan State.  The 1905 Integral states that Armour had not had a team in 1903, so that the 1904 team “needed considerable elementary work.” Still the team posted a surprising 3-3-1, winning its last three games over American College of Medicine and Surgery, Woodlawn Country Club and Northwestern  Medical College. The team drew with Englewood High School, and lost to North Central, Lake Forest and Culver Military Academy.  


Armour dropped football after the 1905 season.



1904 Armour Institute football team. (1905 Integral, digitized by

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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