Davis Hall, originally named the Science Building, was built in 1943. This is quite odd for the construction of a building in the United States because it was during this time World War II took place. More material and manpower was being directed towards the war effort rather than for educational buildings. It was originally built to house the classrooms for all the natural sciences. It currently holds many of those departments such as geology, geography, meteorology and astronomy. The observatory telescope atop Davis Hall was not added until a few years after the construction of Davis Hall due to a shortage of funds.
The Observatory was added to Davis Hall in 1965 and renovated in 2000 through grants received from the NIU and DeKalb Foundations by Laura Layton (the observatory manager at that time), Ralph Benbow and Dave Hedin.
The Observatory dome was constructed in the early 1960s by a local Plainfield company, Ash Dome.
The Observatory rests upon a pair of hydraulic cylinders which allow the floor to be raised and lowered for better use of the telescopes. The clock drive also makes possible reliable 10- and 20-minute astrophotography.
Viewing from the Observatory is adequate, although the proximity of downtown DeKalb, Huskie Stadium and the parking garage produce a significant amount of light pollution. Best viewing is to the Northwest, Southwest, South, North, and dead overhead. Western viewing becomes better when Huskie Stadium turns off its lights. The Observatory is equipped with white lights and red lights. Red lights are used in order to preserve night vision while observing