Rooted in History

BY LAURA SORVETTI | University Archives

lace long enough and you will see a campus that is constantly in motion, from the daily movement of students traveling between classes at the top of the hour, to the construction of major building projects. This site at the intersection of Via Carta and Polyview Drive, here photographed circa 1963, is a case in point. In the 50 years prior to this photo, this site was the center of poultry instruction and horticulture at Cal Poly. Then, the rapid expansion of the university in the 1950s moved the agricultural units toward the outer campus and the building of major classroom and lab spaces at the core of campus to support increased enrollment and newly established majors.

First came the Mathematics and Home Economics building at the south and the Agriculture and Social Sciences building at the center of this view, which was dedicated in 1960, followed by the English building to the north, which opened two years later. Visitors to the same location today will see the same view, but with the addition of the William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation, which opens to classes next year, behind it.

Shortly after construction, the Agriculture and Social Sciences building was dedicated as the Alan A. Erhart Agriculture Building. Erhart served five terms on the county board of supervisors and was California State Senator for San Luis Obispo County from 1952 until his death in 1960. Erhart championed the growth and expansion of Cal Poly, in addition to being a proponent of state water programs and recreation projects on the Central Coast.

Recent alumni might notice that the pedestrian bridge is missing from the south side of the Agriculture Building in this photo. The bridge was constructed between 1982-84 by construction students as a senior project and built by students as a class project using funds and materials donated from individuals and companies across California. The River Red Gum tree to the south still stands today and was nominated in 2014 as a California Big Tree.


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