Attic Club- Artsy and Important

Attic club page_cropped
Club page in Gem of the Mountain, 1943

The Attic Club

For approximately twenty five years, the Attic club meet, socialized, and created on the University of Idaho campus. With a mix of art and architecture students, the club aimed to fund-raise and showcase their art. With a fluctuation of students every year, the actions of the club changed. But as a club, they remained interested in socializing with their fellow creative students, with producing art they were interested in, and bettering the department.

The first mentioning’s of the Attic club in The Gem of the Mountain yearbook was in 1936, with Olga Ewasen being listed as part of the Attic club. The Attic club received its first club page in The Gem of the Mountain in the 1942 edition. And in the 1943 edition, the Attic club’s “Atticana” is mentioned for the first time as, “an art manual” that the club “strives to publish each year”.


Atticana cover, 1940

The earliest version of the Atticana held in the Special Collections at the University of Idaho is from 1939, and the latest version is from 1966. The books are made and printed by the Attic club, including art and messages to the readers from the members themselves. The 1940 version includes a forward that explains what the Attic club hopes to achieve by printing Atticana;

Foreward in the Atticana, 1940

One of the volumes includes an excerpt about how, “For the first time since the founding of the University the Art and Architecture department has had a building to call its own.” Assumingly that could place the printing of this book in 1965, when the Art and Architecture North building was made solely for the Art and Architecture department. If that is the case, it’s an exciting find because it’s an important documentation of a big move for the Art and Architecture department. However, because of another comment made in this volume of the Atticana, “The building is not a beautiful piece of architecture, but the students are proud of what they do” that causes some reconsideration, as it seems unlikely that a brand-new building built solely for this department would cause the Attic club to deem the building “not a beautiful piece of architecture”.

So the next idea would be that the club and department were moved into the Art and Architecture South building as it’s an older building that has been reused several times, and could earn such a comment. However, there is some confliction on the date for when that building went from being the Women’s Gym to being Art and Architecture South. On the University of Idaho Digital Collections website page for the Art and Architecture building, the site says that the building was the Women’s Gym “…until the early 1970’s…”. However, an image also found in the Digital Collections, showing the Attic club presenting a chair they made to the President of the University, J.E. Buchanan, dates them in 1950. The latitude and longitude placement of the photo is where the Art and Architecture South building is located on campus.

So, possible explanations. One, a simple mistake on one of the pieces of information. Or a more complicated answer, and a common one. Art and Architecture South could have been being used as the Women’s Gym and for art and architecture classes/the Attic club at the same time. But that wouldn’t tie in well with the Atticana claiming they were in a building of their own.

Either way, the Atticana is an amazing piece for all of the documentation, whether it be art, moments in the club/department, or the desires of the students. Other then the question of one of the Atticana’s print years, the University of Idaho’s Special Collections has Atticanas from 1939, 1940, 1942, and 1955.

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Importance of the Attic club

Clubs are often promoted as a must for college students, and for good reason. In a study for rural students in higher education, they found that, “Rural students who participated in social clubs and/or fraternities/sororities while attending college were more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than students who did not”. [1] Many of the students in Attic not only participated in that club, but they were also in greek houses. 1946 Arline Durkoop (President) Delta Delta Delta, 1942 Evalyn L. Schultz (Social Chair) Pi Beta Phi, and 1943 Richard Slater Walton (member) Phi Gamma Delta, just to name a few [2]. The Attic members stayed active in their activities and others. They also strove to improve the department by helping the students themselves.

The Argonaut mentioned the Attic club when they hosted parties, art shows, and art auctions. The club prided itself on being social, but it also used these events to fund-raise. The Argonaut covered a art auction that the Attic club did in 1966;

art auction
Article in the Argonaut, May 17th, 1966

In the article, George Roberts, an associate professor of Art, talks about how the students made the pieces in the art auction, and how they sold 95 pieces, earning them over 1,000 dollars. He also talks about the fundraising portion;

Half of the student proceeds go into the Attic Club fund for the annual $500 scholarship, said Roberts. “As far as I know this is the only art scholarship given in the state of Idaho,” he said.”

The Attic club strove to make themselves and the Art and Architecture department better. They created a community for the students, and even hosted scholarships. Without the club, it is likely that the Art and Architecture department wouldn’t have developed as much as it has, and that its students might not have been able to purposefully be involved in their educational experience without the Attic club. [3]

Post-script. This blog is part of a larger “Campus Oscura” project. Related posts can be found through the interactive map below. Please explore and share, click here or click on the map below to see the interactive Fusion map.



[1] Soo-Yong Byun, Matthew J. Irvin, and Judith L. Meece, “Predictors of Bachelor’s Degree Completion among Rural Students at Four-Year Institutions,” The Review of Higher Education, 474.

[2] Information found in the Gem Mountain Year books.

[3] Kimberly F. Case, “A Gendered Perspective On Student Involvement In Collegiate Clubs and Organizations In Christian Higher Education,” Christian Higher Education, 2011, 167.


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