Designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style by Los Angeles architects Brown and Fisher and crafted of Moenkopi sandstone, construction on Old Main began in the summer of 1894. Originally intended to serve as a reform school for the "vicious youth" of the Arizona Territory, the building stood empty for several years. The Territorial Legislature then proposed that the building become an insane asylum. However, a Flagstaff committee soon convinced legislators to establish an educational institution instead. On September 11, 1899, Northern Arizona Normal School [NANS] held its first class in Old Main. In 1916, the state awarded NANS a grant to build an addition onto Old Main (the Ashurst Building) which was completed in 1920. Old Main has housed offices, classrooms, laboratories, and served for a time as a dormitory. Today Old Main houses an art gallery, museum, and offices.