Our History

Normal School  1887–1920

John Bidwell donated his eight-acre cherry orchard to secure the northern branch of the State Normal School for Chico in 1887. The corner boundaries of his cherry orchard are marked today by a planting of cherry trees, each with a plaque that commemorates this gift.

Construction began on Chico State Normal School, and the campus opened in 1889 with 90 students and five faculty members. The first class of teachers graduated in June 1891.

Chico State Teachers College   1921–1934

Chico State Normal School became Chico State Teachers College in 1921. The college  soon added a junior college curriculum and awarded a certificate after two years. In 1924 it began granting baccalaureate degrees. Two years after a fire destroyed the Normal Building in 1927, a new administration building was constructed on the site, later to be renamed Kendall Hall.

Chico State College  1935–1971

The California legislature converted its teachers colleges to state colleges in 1935, and Chico State Teachers College became Chico State College. During this period chimes were installed in the Trinity tower, the first biological laboratory was established at Eagle Lake, and the University Farm was dedicated to the memory of Paul L. Byrne. Chico State also granted its first bachelor of science and master’s degrees.

California State University, Chico 1972–present

In 1972, the college became California State University, Chico. Academic departments and programs, previously grouped by schools, were reorganized into colleges, and, in 1982, the campus was dedicated as an arboretum.

The campus core is 132 acres. The University also manages 800 acres of farmland and 4,043 acres of ecological reserves.

CSU, Chico has come a long way since its founding in 1887. The frontiers of knowledge and the tools of teaching have expanded beyond the imagination of the Normal school’s first students. CSU, Chico is a place of enduring traditions as well as growth and transformation.

Time capsules

The numbers in the sidewalks at the entrance to Kendall Hall cover time capsules prepared by each class year. This tradition was discontinued in 1969 but rekindled in 2000 with the help of the Associated Students and the Alumni Association. Ever since, each year alums from past decades are invited to campus during Founders Week to witness the opening of their classes’ time capsule and to reminisce about their days on campus.

Opening of the 1939 time capsule

Opening of the 1939 time capsule in 1999.