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Painting above the Fireplace

That is a picture of T.J. (Thomas Jefferson) Majors. T.J. Majors came to Peru before the Civil War, about the time of the first charter for the private college. He left for the Pikes Peak Gold Rush but returned to start a mercantile store. He left a second time to fight in the Civil War, returning after its conclusion. Back from the war, he was elected to the Nebraska Territorial Legislature. From his efforts and the efforts of others, the then private college in Peru was purchased by the brand new state of Nebraska. Thus Peru became the site of a first public higher education institution in Nebraska. At that time the college was just about the only college traveling north to Moscow, Russia, traveling South to Mexico City, and traveling West to Asia. The T.J. Majors building bears his name.


In the mid-1880s the telescope was housed in an observatory in the general area of the T.J. Majors building. Eventually the telescope was used by a local Peru boy, 14-year old Edison Pettit. In 1904, the main floor of the current library building was being finished as a Chapel and Convocation Center with a ceiling almost 40 feet higher than present day. As workmen were painting the ceiling with angels and cherubs, Edison got them to tie a string to the highest part of the ceiling. Near the floor level Edison tied a ball to the string. With this arrangement he studied the movement of the universe and began his career that would lead to becoming an internationally renowned astronomer. During 1930s, Edison was the expert for questions as to whether there was life on Mars.

The Journey - A History in Stained Glass

The stain glass windows in the library were commissioned in 2006. Artist Cindy Kessler's "Eight Windows" represent the previous uses of the building that now houses the Library and a student's journey through college. The smaller windows along the east wall of the Library are for the past uses: Art Department, Science Building, Chapel, Gymnasium, and Roller Rink. Along the south wall, the three larger windows show a student's progression through college.

Swimming Pool on Lower Level

Before the building was renovated in 2002 to become the library, it housed the college swimming pool and the gymnasium in which the college students and Southeast Nebraska high school students used for more than 75 years. This changed when students, alums, and citizens went to the State Capitol and gained funding support for the Al Wheeler Activity Center in the 1980s.

E. P. Conkle

E.P. Conkle was from Peru. As a young child Conkle would have sat in the library building among an audience of 1600 enjoying plays in a theater which then took up the main floor of the library. After graduating, E.P. became a teacher in Nebraska, and later was a playwright, with plays on Broadway, and a radio and television screen writer.

E.P. Conkle’s students included Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Night of the Iguana), Pat Hingle (106 movies and counting, including two Batman films), Tommy Tune (winner of nine Tony awards, top 1997 album Slow Dancing), and Fess Parker (Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone).

Marion Marsh Brown

Marion Marsh Brown was born July 22, 1908, northwest of Brownville, Nebraska. She began attending the college in 1923 at the age of 15 graduating in 1927 with an A.B. in English. She taught at high schools until 1934 when she returned to the college as an assistant professor of English. In 1937, she resigned her position to move to Omaha with her husband, Gilbert S. Brown. She returned to teaching from 1954 to 1968 for the University of Omaha.

In 1949, her first book, Young Nathan, was published. After that, she published an average of one book every two years and wrote over 200 short stories. Her book, The Swamp Fox, was used by Disney as the base for their TV show by the same title; the show ran from 1959-1961.  She was the recipient of the Sower Award from the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Mari Sandoz Award from the Nebraska Library Association, and twice the Junior Literary Guild.

Marion Marsh Brown died February 25, 2001.

The Library houses some of her original manuscripts, research notes, and other materials related to her career at Peru State College in its closed archives.

Peru State College Library
600 Hoyt Street | Peru, NE | (402) 872-2311