History of Eastern’s Brainard House

Elizabeth Taylor, Associate News Editor

The Brainard House is a historical house located on Eastern’s campus which is named after a man who continues to have an impact on many students lives, even after his death.

Harry Ogden Brainard graduated from Eastern in 1926, but there is very little accessible recorded information about his life.

The Daily Eastern News archives in the Booth Library Keep hold several casual mentions of Brainard’s charity work and activities on campus, but hardly any connection between those events.

The Eastern Illinois University Archives received a collection of Brainard’s files after his death in 1992, and published an abbreviated biography based on an unpublished manuscript titled “Biography: Personal Data [for H Ogden Brainard]”.

The biography provides a summary of Brainard’s life, starting with his attendance at Eastern.

After graduating Eastern, Brainard went to the University of Illinois for his law degree and was later appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. District Courts, before returning to Charleston in 1935 to set up his law practice.

Brainard was invested in staying active at Eastern and in improving the future of his alma mater, driving him to start the Eastern Illinois University Foundation, a group which creates philanthropy opportunities for Eastern’s alumni.

The Foundation’s building, now known as the Alumni Services building, was named after Brainard in 1987.

At that time, the EIU Foundation’s assets had grown from less than $10,000 to over $3.5 million.

The foundation continues to provide scholarships and grants to Eastern students each year.

In 2019, it provided 775 scholarships, as well as over $2.5 million in grants. As of last year, the foundation’s assets added up to $95 million.

During Brainard’s life, he also assisted with campaigns to improve Eastern’s campus and supported both the athletic programs and creative arts in particular.

He gave large amounts of money to the fund for the Tarble Arts Center and was the committee chair of the campaign to raise money for the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

With his help, the committee was able to raise enough money to add air conditioning to the building.

In 1977, Brainard worked with Glen Hesler and the Century Club to fund a canopy over a section of bleachers to shelter special guests at O’Brien Stadium.

He also served as the grand marshal of the Homecoming parade in 1987, stepping in for Burl Ives, who had originally been scheduled to fill the role.

The EIU Foundation is now located in the Neal Welcome Center which includes the H. Ogden Brainard Conference Room, but the Brainard House will keep the same name as it serves as a home to Eastern’s Alumni Services.

Throughout this week, The Daily Eastern News will be discussing the history behind the names of some of the buildings on Eastern’s campus.


Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]