Eastvold: A Glimpse Into the Past and Present

Had it not been for the generous donations from the Graduating Class of ’50 and the people of Tacoma among others, PLU would never have had its Eastvold Chapel.

The beginning

Eastvold was not originally called Eastvold, but the Auditorium-Dramatics, Speech and Conservatory of Music as of 1948. A few years later, in August 1950, the building was renamed, this time called the Chapel-Music-Speech building.
Finally, in 1952, the building was yet again renamed to Eastvold Chapel, this time after Dr. Seth C. Eastvold, PLC President from 1943 to 1962 in recognition of his loyal service to the college.

The idea of this specific building occurred when the American Lutheran Church at its 1944 convention adopted the idea to meet the needs of a growing church at Pacific Lutheran College, and therefore authorized an educational appeal as well as a building to be erected on campus in 1950.

The idea was soon put on the table by the College Board of Trustees and got great support from the college itself. However, it was later put on hold due to WWII being an ongoing worry, but the planning was later brought back for further discussion.


In late 1948, after WWII was over and people were at ease, the College Board of Trustees hired an architect for the new Auditorium-Dramatics, Speech and Conservatory of Music building and met with the architect to discuss the planning of the future building. The architect was hired to draw plans for a Chapel-Conservatory of Music and to report back to the spring meeting of the Board.

In early 1950, the Board of Trustees and the Business Manager had problems finding funding and possible sources of income in order to cover the cost itself, and this would later be of concern as their funds were already exhausted. However, the Board of Trustees was brave enough to announce in the quarterly PLC College Bulletin in August 1950 that the sum would be reached by December 31, 1951.

Luckily, it went PLC’s way as the college itself had many ties to the greater Tacoma area, and many were willing to contribute and donate money to the college.


When it came to help from other organizations, the Northwestern District of the American Lutheran Church voted a minimum goal of $100,000 to Pacific Lutheran College during the 1950 appeal. This amount of money would be added to the amount that would later be raised by the Evangelical Lutheran Church and to other gifts, as well as grants that were donated to the college. It was estimated that the total goal from all sources would come to $500,000, which also was the initial estimated amount needed to set up the new building, now called the Chapel-Music-Speech building.

The Graduating Class of ’50 pledged $7,500, and the sum was put forward to help pay for the steeple on the building and tower chimes, which would ring out the daily class hours and give music at chapel time.


During the actual planning of the new building, the Board of Trustees decided that the building would occupy the center of the campus and be 212 feet long and 143 feet across the section where the classrooms would be located. The auditorium would hold 1,200 people. The little chapel on the third floor under the rose window would hold 75 people, and the state platform would be used for many purposes such as graduation exercises, music festivals, dramatics, speech, concerts and other activities.

Space was also allocated for a big organ, which would cost approximately $50,000.

In the quarterly College Bulletin from March 1950, the college stressed that with an average of about 1,000 students (as of 1950) every school year, the Chapel-Music-Speech building would be of great importance, and of tremendous value in the whole process of Christian higher education.

In the quarterly College Bulletin from August 1950, it was announced that bids for the Chapel-Music-Speech building had been opened for the college, and three Tacoma firms were awarded contracts for a total of $528,871. In addition to this, a 9 percent architectural fee was added as well as the Washington sales tax, for a total of $47,598.39. The building itself, not including furnishing nor equipment would cost $576,469.39. The seating in the main building for 1,200 people would cost $25,000, and with equipment such as pianos, chairs, curtains and stage equipment, the total came to around $625,000.

The Chapel-Music-Speech building was erected in 1952, and was later renamed Eastvold Chapel after former PLC President, Seth C. Eastvold, who had been serving the college from 1943 to 1962.


In the fall of 2011, almost 60 years after its original erection, a new and ground-breaking addition was added to Eastvold: black box. The black box theater, which is a small and minimalistic theater with mobile seating, allowed for the audience to surround the action on two, three or four sides, and became a great success.

Currently there are grand plans in store to return Eastvold to its full glory as it is now being restored. Plans of expanding Eastvold are also ongoing, and the completion is expected in summer 2013.

Additionally, this article was compiled from information from Bulletins in the University Archives.
If you are interested in the history of PLU, you can find the information in the 3rd floor of the Campus Library.

Categories: Art & Music, Campus

Tags: , , , ,

6 replies

  1. This is very interesting article! It’s clear that you did some digging to find all of this research and I think it’s important for PLU students to know more about the history of the school. Nicely done!

  2. I wish you had mentioned that you got the information from the University Archives’ holdings of the Bulletins so that others who may do similar research will know where to find them.

  3. Dear Kerstin, the source of the information used for this article has been added – thank you for highlighting that!

  4. I believe it’s a typo (on one of the captions) that the building was named Eastvold in 1952–I think it was 1962.

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