Delaware County Historical Society logo

Photo Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title Home of Hiram M Perkins, Prof. at OWU on 235 West William Street - Delaware
Date 1881
Object Name Print, Photographic
People Perkins, Hiram M.
Place Ohio/Delaware County/City of Delaware/William Street/West/235
Description Residence of Hiram M Perkins, Professor at OWU, 235 West William Street

Hiram M. Perkins earned the title of Reverend as well as Professor, being a minister as well as a professor of geometry, trigonometry and astronomy. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1857 and was appointed tutor in the natural sciences;. He held this position for five years. In 1865 he was appointed Adjunct Professor in mathematics; in 1867 he was appointed to the full chair of mathematics and astronomy -- which position he held until his retirements in 1907.

"Perky" was an Ohio Wesleyan tradition; he was a tall man and usually wore a black coat with tails. He rode a bicycle about town and it was a familiar sight to see him pedaling along with his coat tails waving behind. Severe and exacting as a professor, his students "never forgot his beautiful and eloquent lectures on the magnitude, distance and velocity of the heavenly bodies. His heart was in astronomy as his teaching and gift of Perkins Observatory show." (Quoted by H. C. Hubbart in this "First Hundred Years of Ohio Wesleyan University".)

The small Perkins Observatory with its 9 1/2 in. refracting telescope was built on the Perkins-Barnes property between the present building of Stuyvesant Hall and Perkins Hall on West William St. This was built during the Bashford administration; this observatory was the gift of Perkins, his wife and sister, Mrs. Sarah P. Howard.

Professor Perkins' great dream was to build a larger telescope for the University. When he was 90 years old the dream was realized when he turned the first sod for the Perkins Observatory, four miles south of Delaware on Rt. 23. The observatory contains a 69 in. mirror, the third largest in the country at the time of it construction. Hiram Perkins and his wife, through savings and investments, gave $200,000 toward the construction of the building; Ohio Wesleyan University trustees added $100,000. It was soon evident that the Observatory was too large for Ohio Wesleyan to operate alone and has since been maintained with the cooperative effort of Ohio State. "Perky" did not see the completion of the building, but died in 1924.

Subjects Home built in 1880
Photographer W.B.Kimball
Catalog Number 1808.01.015n