Eads Hall was erected in 1902-03. It was leased to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company for use during the 1904 World’s Fair as headquarters for the Board of Lady Managers.
The architects were the Philadelphia firm Cope & Stewardson, represented by James P. Jamieson. The general contractor was Bright Construction Company. These companies worked together on other early campus buildings.
The building was occupied by Washington University in St. Louis in February 1905 and housed the Department of Physics. It was later the site of the experimental work for which Arthur Holly Compton (professor of physics 1920-23 and 1945-62 and chancellor 1945-53) was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1927. Compton was the first university-affiliated scholar to win the Nobel Prize.
The building was named for James Buchanan Eads, the designer of Eads Bridge, and was a gift to the university by his daughter, Mrs. James Finney How. Mrs. How’s father-in-law was John How, a charter member of the university’s Board of Directors. James Eads is well known in St. Louis for his work on Eads Bridge, the first arched steel bridge to cross the Mississippi. What is not as well known is that, before designing the bridge (the first and only bridge Eads ever built), Eads designed ironclad gunboats for the Union army during the Civil War.
Student Life and the alumni magazine, then known as the Alumni Bulletin were housed here. Mary Wickes, the late actress and Washington University alumna (class of 1930) worked in this space from 1930-34, while on the staff of the University News Bureau, now known as the Office of Public Affairs.