McKim Observatory was built in 1884, when the president of Indiana Asbury University’s board of trustees was Washington C. DePauw. A native of Ireland, who had become a prosperous contractor in Madison, Indiana, Robert McKim’s hobby was astronomy. He was a friend of Washington DePauw’s, and he donated $10,000 for the construction and a complete astronomical outfit for the observatory provided the name of the school be changed to DePauw University.
Today, the facility is on the National Register of Historic Places and remains an excellent example of a well-equipped late 1800’s observatory. While it houses many of its original instruments, including a 9.53-inch Clark refracting telescope and a Fauth and Co. meridian circle transit telescope, McKim is currently used by DePauw astronomy students and for independent research projects. During two-hour stargazing events, hosted twice monthly during the school year by DePauw’s astronomy department, guests are invited to use the equipment, and additional telescopes, at no charge to see and learn about the night skies.