Standing in front of Old Main, it’s not difficult to imagine how Nebraska Wesleyan University must have looked 120 years ago. All other campus buildings are gone. Sidewalks are earthen paths through high grass. The huge surrounding Austrian pines are no thicker than three or four pencils bundled together. You can touch their top branches flatfooted. A cow grazes near the arched west entrance.
The Methodist church is off to the left behind you, but the building itself with its proud, red tile dome won’t come for another 20 years. The church is at this moment quite literally a hole in the ground.
You stop a passerby and ask her about Old Main, and she takes offense. “The Main Building isn’t ‘old,’” she tells you. “It’s new. And a lot of work went into it.” You apologize and try to explain yourself, but she just looks at your strange clothes and continues on. She has to catch the train to Lincoln.