Did You Know? ISU's 'I' on Red Hill

Arlen Walker on Nov 5, 2019 9:15:00 AM

The new “I”, above and to the left of the original location.

The iconic “I”, now once again on Red Hill after a 5-year absence, was not always an “I”. Actually, nothing was on Red Hill when ISU began as the Academy of Idaho in 1901.

The Academy of Idaho was a trade school and also had a high school curriculum. In 1915, the secondary school program was discontinued and the institution was renamed the Idaho Technical Institute with a two- and three-year certification program—what would today be a junior college.

1905The Academy of Idaho in 1905 showing Red Hill without the gash where rock was removed later for grading the unpaved streets

During the early “Tech” years, a “T” was installed on Red Hill and soon became a recognizable landmark for the city. By the mid-1920's, a movement began to elevate the institution to four-year degrees status.

TThe campus prior to 1920 with the “T” visible on Red Hill

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Students modified the “T” into a “4” in 1926 to rally support for the change. They were successful. During the 1927-28 academic year the “Tech” became the University of Idaho, Southern Branch. At that time the “T”, modified into an “I” became a lasting symbol for the school.

4 1926
The “T” as a “4” from the 1926 Wickiup yearbook

When the institution became independent of U of I as Idaho State College in 1947, the “I” served equally well. The same was true in 1963 when ISC achieved full university status and became ISU.

1939Red Hill in 1939, shows the “I” with the conservation lines dug by the Civilian Conservation Corps



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