This structure was built in 1899 to replace the original Mechanical Hall that burned to the ground on September 27, 1898. That fire threw the school year into chaos, since the building had housed the entire engineering program as well as the college's athletic equipment, dressing rooms and showers.
College officials quickly invited members of the state Legislature to view the ruin. Within two weeks, the Legislature appropriated $25,000 to build a new Mechanical Hall.
Portland architect Edgar M. Lazarus designed the new building. Desiring a distinctive structure to greet visitors at the campus north entrance, he patterned the design after the 2nd century Roman gatehouse at Trier, Germany. This new stone structure with metal roof maximized fire-resistance, and was described as "nearly fireproof as modern architecture can make it."
Local materials were used — "Cascade granite" for the base walls came from the Granite Mountain quarry in Marion County, and the sandstone for the upper walls came from the Pioneer Sandstone Company in nearby Lincoln County. Contractor H. N. Eley of Salem began construction in November, 1898. It was completed in July, 1899.
The OAC 1900 Biennial Report described the new Mechanical Hall as "One of the most substantial as well as elegant structures
on the campus..."The first floor held machine shops, the printing office, a laboratory, recitation rooms and the office of the professor of mechanical engineering.
Apperson addition, 1920
A third floor was added in 1920. The building was renamed Apperson Hall after John Apperson, who served on the Board of Regents, 1888-1917, and led efforts to replace Mechanical Hall. Apperson was board chairman and former legislator.
Kearney Hall, 2009
From 2007 to 2009, the building underwent a $12 million renovation. The historic exterior was saved; the original roof design from the 1899 building was reintroduced. The building was renamed Kearney Hall to honor Lee and Connie Kearney, who provided the lead gift of $4 million to launch OSU's fourth-oldest building into another century of service. Kearney Hall became the home of the OSU's School of Civil & Construction Engineering.