James W. Nicholson Hall History

James W. Nicholson Hall History

Nicholson Hall was named for James W. Nicholson, the University's first dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a former mathematics professor, and a past University superintendent. 

phys signThe graphic at the upper right was scanned and enhanced with color from a photograph taken of the stucco medallion sculpture that appears on the east side of Nicholson Hall above the original entrance.

Notice that the symbols across the bottom identify all "eight" planets in the solar system. The original building was erected in 1937 when astronomers were still debating Pluto's status as a planet. Therefore, the ninth planet is not represented in the sculpture. And, in a highly controversial vote in 2006, the International Astronomical Union adopted a decision to define the word "planet" so as to effectively demote Pluto to the status of "dwarf planet", thus making the Nicholson planet count as being correct again.


Another building was added to Nicholson Hall in 1959, connecting the "Old Nicholson Hall" with a breezeway on the third floor. The doorway with the sculpture is now slightly hidden between the two buildings. 

In December 2003, the construction and renovation project was completed. This would be the first time Nicholson Hall has been under construction since the newer portion or "annex" was added in 1959.

Thank you to Dr. Joel Tohline who contributed this find of some interesting history into the man James W. Nicholson. See the article called "Louisiana Places" from A Collection of Columns from theBaton Rouge Sunday Advocate 1960-1974. A download of the article can be found here.