This photograph, from the Kentucky State University photograph album, shows the building during its days as State University (1908-1916). The ivy creeping up the building gives the Administration Building a different character than its look today. Looking to the extreme right in the center, one can see the cannon on its cement block. Just above the cannon, to the direct right of the tree, one can see the dome of the Old Chemistry Building (Gillis Hall). The first floor windows to the right have striped canopies to block the light of the setting sun. Comparing the building to the way it stands today, the tower is the biggest difference visible from the outside. It was later removed from the building.
The Administration Building was the first building on campus. It was built in the same year as the Old Dormitory and the Residence where President James K. Patterson lived. It is also the only building of those three that still stands. At the time the building was erected, it was called the Main Building. This title was certainly deserved. In 1882, "all academic functions took place there, and professors' classrooms doubled as their offices" (Cone, 1989). The interior of the building has undergone many rearrangements since it was the Main Building; only the stairways and two hallways remain.
The three buildings and the were funded by bonds issued to fulfill the pledges of the Lexington City Council and the Fayette County Court that totaled $50,000. The pledges competed against ones made by Bowling Green. If Bowling Green had pledged higher, it is possible the University could have been located there. The city and county met their pledge and more, offering funds of $86,000. More funds came from a property tax levied by the state legislature which produced about $20,000 in funds. As opposed to the one time offer of the city and county, the property tax would offer funds year after year. Finally, the University also had a land grant endowment fund set up when it was called A&M College and was part of the sectarian Kentucky University. Still, building funds were gone by mid-1881. Fear of a repeal of the property tax caused banks to refuse the University loans. President Patterson had to offer his own monies to get a loan that would complete construction of the building (Cone, 1989).