When Washington University’s board of directors made the decision in 1894 to move the university from aging and crowded quarters in downtown St. Louis to a hilltop site on the untamed western edge of Forest Park, a significant challenge arose: How would the university raise the money needed to fulfill its vision for a monumental campus that would inspire learning and discovery?
As it had done many times since the university’s founding in 1853, the board turned to loyal and dedicated alumni and friends for support. By mid-1899, the board, led by Robert S. Brookings, had secured gifts to sponsor the first six structures on the new campus. Brookings himself committed $200,000 for an administration building that was later named in his honor. Other donors included Adolphus Busch, Samuel Cupples, Elizabeth Liggett, and Stephen Ridgley, whose names also are memorialized on the Danforth Campus.
Over the years, generous donors have made it possible for Washington University to provide facilities that attract top faculty members and students and allow them to work at the highest level of achievement. Their gifts have strengthened the university’s ability to offer an exceptional teaching, research, and living environment that ensures bright minds reach their full potential.