Completed in 1943, the limestone hall was named for Ernest H. Lindley, chancellor 1920-39, who died shortly after retiring. It is sited on the crest of Mount Oread traversed by the Oregon Trail, denoted by a historical marker. Its Art Moderne design was by State Architect Roy Stookey, and limestone bas reliefs above the main doors are by sculptor Bernard “Poco” Frazier.
The building's construction was delayed and complicated by World War II materiel shortages, which were alleviated only after Chancellor Deane W. Malott and other administrators committed the new building for military training; it was a barracks and mess hall for Army and Navy trainees until early 1946.
It was planned to house the mineral resources departments of geography, geology, chemical and petroleum engineering, mining and metallurgical engineering; the state and federal Geological Survey; and the astronomical observatory. From the mid-1970s on, engineering programs were moved to Learned and Eaton halls; the geological surveys and observatory also moved.
Lindley now houses the department of geography and atmospheric science, the environmental studies program, faculty and staff offices, classrooms, the Center for Sustainability, and the Paleontological Institute.
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