(WSYR-TV) — The Iconic Hall of Languages at Syracuse University is celebrating 150 Years, and curator of history at the Onondaga Historical Association Bob Searing joined Bridge Street to tell us about its origins.

On a campus filled with breathtaking architecture and numerous iconic buildings, there can only be one first, and that distinction goes to the Hall of Languages, the university’s first, which opened on May 8, 1873. It took a little over a year and half to build.

Just a few days after Rev. Peck laid the cornerstone for the Hall of Languages on August 31, 1871, the fledgling university held its first classes in the Myers Block, on the corner of Montgomery and East Genesee Street in downtown Syracuse. That first class was comprised of forty-one students, including seven women. While the students toiled in their classrooms in the Myers Block, scores of laborers toiled to build the university’s new home.

Designed by noted local architect Horatio Nelson White, whose Onondaga County Savings Bank (Gridley Building) was completed in 1867, the Hall of Languages is a beautiful example of the Second Empire Style. Costing nearly $130,000 ($2.7 million in 2020), it was constructed out of Onondaga limestone quarried in the valley.

Learn more of Central New York’s history at cnyhistory.org.