EWU Historic District

The Herculean Pillars mark the traditional entryway to the EWU campus in front of Showalter Hall.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992, the Washington State Normal School at Cheney Historic District includes the 6 oldest buildings comprising the original core of the University campus, as well as the Herculean Pillars which grace the traditional entryway to the campus.

National Register Designation

The EWU Historic District, as it is commonly known, was the 1st university historic district in the state to receive National Register designation.


The EWU Historic District is significant for its contributions to the development of the Normal School idea and its crucial role in providing adequate training for teachers. In the early 19th century, the demand for teachers outstripped the capacity of traditional schools to provide them. The first 'normal schools' opened in Massachusetts in 1839, named after an early French teacher-training college, L'ecole Normal.

Such colleges flourished in the East and followed close upon the heels of Western settlement. By 1910 nearly every state had such programs. The resultant improvement in education, especially among rural populations, was a major factor in the emergence of modern America as an affluent and literate society.


This Historic District constitutes an enduring memorial to important local figures who were central to the survival and prosperity of the school. Fittingly, some of these persons were products of the Normal Schools system, shining examples of the effectiveness of such a training program. These significant individuals, whose names grace four of the Historic District buildings, are Noah David Showalter, Mary A. Monroe, William J. Sutton, and Richard T. Hargreaves.

Architectural Significance

The structures of the EWU Historic District possess architectural significance, not only as outstanding examples of the institutional style of the period, but also as reflections upon the careers of two of the most prolific designers of Public Works in the state, architects Julius Zittel and George M. Rasque.

Visiting the Area

We invite you to visit the history of Cheney as revealed in some of her most memorable and majestic buildings.