Mechanical Hall was formally changed to Apperson Hall in 1920. It was named after John Apperson, an early Oregon settler from Kentucky. He fought in the Civil War as a First Lieutenant, and after the war settled in Oregon City with his new wife Mary.
He piloted steamboats for several years before taking up politics, first in Clackamas County and then in the state senate. He also became interested in Oregon Agricultural College during that time, and from 1888 to 1917 served on the Board of Regents (including two terms as president of the Board).
He died on April 3, 1917; that fall, the Board of Regents accepted a portrait of John Apperson by M.M. McLouth. It now hangs in the Apperson 212, the largest classroom in Apperson. His widow, Mary Apperson, started the John Apperson Educational Fund in 1923; it continues to provide assistance to needy students.