History of the Site

Summer, 1946. World War II had ended over a year before and that meant many veterans were interested in utilizing the G.I. Bill in every manner possible. “Education is the key to success…” said Solomon Ortiz. For most, this simply meant the world was at their fingertips. They could advance their education and change their life in every way possible. This bill meant everything was about to change. Unfortunately, colleges were completely unprepared to handle the influx of degree-seeking, applicants, particularly the University of Evansville.

In 1945, the college had a faculty of 27, one building, and 300-400 students. However, with the university President’s announcement that every veteran that was qualified would be admitted to the university, life began to pick up for the tiny southern Indiana college. By 1946 enrollment was 1505 and by 1947 it was 1722. Although rooms were on lease in other areas and buildings were being put up, the university needed space immediately.

Surprisingly, the government came to the aid of the university with a very simple solution. Temporary war barracks had been made for the war, but with no war in which to use them, the barracks were being wasted. Therefore, these barracks were offered to the university and set up as temporary housing, on the remains of which the Tin City Project is centered (Olmstead 1975).

The buildings of the excavation site were first occupied in 1946. They were located on Rotherwood Avenue, where the current Moore Hall, Neu Chapel, and Wheeler Concert Hall are all standing (Kaiser 2003). These buildings were considered “temporary”, despite the fact they remained in their places for over fourteen years. These buildings were provided by the government since the sudden increase of college enrollment was mainly World War II veterans. Dubbed “Tin City” by students, due to the aluminum siding, the complex included two-family where the families of the university lived together, played together, and helped one another (Kaiser 2003; Olmstead 1975).


Image 1: Aerial photograph of Evansville College campus in 1947. Tin City is visible on the left.

Image 2: Aerial photograph of the Tin City Units. c. 1960


Kaiser, A (2005) Rediscovering Tin City. UE Magazine Winter. 4-5

Olmstead, R (1975). From Institute to University. Indiana Magazine of History 71, 1. 135-136.