University of Illinois Campus Tour [Photos]

#1
So here's the backstory... the other day I found a cable to power up my hard drive from undergrad, onto which I had saved all of the stuff I had accumulated over 18 months working as an intern for the University building a database of campus buildings and their historic features...

Sooo... I've started posting random facts about campus buildings on a different site and figured there may be a few here that would find it interesting.. so here you go.

gonna start off this journey with what is undoubtedly the most logical opener: Altgeld Hall.


Most people know it for one of two reasons:
1.) it is the backdrop for the most important artifact on campus, the Alma Mater statue
2.) the bells.

I don't have much info on the bells themselves... since I didn't really ever get into that part of the building (there is info out there if you want to find it)... but I will get into the building itself


First, some basic Altgeld Hall info:

Constructed: 1896
Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Nathan C. Ricker & James M. White
Contractor: H.M.R. Construction Company, Chicago
Original Cost: $40,000

Additions:
1914 -
1919 -
1926 -
1956 - 4 story southeast portion

Names:
1896: Library Hall
Prior to 1940: Law Building
After 1940: Altgeld Hall (Named for John P. Altgeld, Governor of Illinois)

Original Use: University Library
Subsequent Uses: Law Classrooms
Current Use: Math department classrooms and offices

CDAC Rating: 5.00 (Perfect score, highest preservation priority on campus)

Statement of Significant:
- National Register of Historic Places
- Named for Governor John P. Altgeld on October 21, 1940
- Interior murals by Newton Alonzo Wells
- Bells/Chimes -- class memorials dedicated in 1920
- One of many campus buildings designed by Nathan Ricker and James White












as mentioned above, Altgeld Hall was built at the University's library in 1896.

Altgeld is the 7th oldest building still standing on campus (the rapidly decomposing Mumford House being the oldest, and Harker Hall being the oldest building that isn't an old farm house)

the building was designed in the Romanesque Revival style more specifically known as Richardsonian Romanesque, after Henry Hobson Richardson... a dude who created it.

Biggest giveaway is when you see arches that look like this:


(not altgeld)

Altgeld Hall, and what will be building #2, the English Building, are favorites of mine because of the stupid tales spun by tour guides on the quad...

At Altgeld Hall, the tour guide would no doubt spin some tale about it being designed by a criminally insane architect mourning a lost wife, or that if you put the various Halls Altgeld around the state together they would form up to make a castle. Both are bullspit.

Altgeld wasn't named for Altgeld until 1940.. and the confusing pattern of stairs and levels is more a by-product of the fact the building was added onto several times before the Americans with Disabilities Act came into law.

The building was originally the Library, and then became home to the College of Law, something that is apparent in one of the pics above where the limestone "Law Building" is above the stenciling of "Mathematics" above the main door

The early history of the building is pretty apparent in the rotunda in the main lobby, which I completely glossed over in the initial post:

the top has the chief justices of the Supreme Court named up through 1941:


the scenes below it are pretty awesome too... showingt the industrial revolution:


along with scenes of Romans generally faffing about:




anyways, as far as I know the College of Law was in Altgeld until the current law building was erected in 1955
 
#2
and to make this an official series... I'll go ahead and post another building, Building #2 on the list:

The English Building

FACTS:
Constructed: 1905
Style: Neo-Classical/Georgian Revival
Original Architect: McKim, Mead & White. (Charles Follen McKim, chief designer)
General Contractor: Collins Brothers

East Addition Architect: W. Carbys Zimmerman
East Addition Contractor: English Brothers

Cost: $80,000
additions: 1913, 1923-24
remodeled in 1978

Original Use: Women's education and gym
Current Use: Classrooms and offices for English Department

Preservation Rating of 4.25/5.00

Naming History:
1905-1947 - Women's Building
1947-1955 - Bevier Hall
1955-present - English Building

Listed as Eligible for National Register of Historic Places

so with that background information out of the way, let's chat a bit about what today is known as the English Building



The English Building has a long history... and it is, I am assuming, probably one of the building those of us on this messages board have spent the least amount of time in. I personally never had a class here, and only walked through the building a couple times.

Most of us were probably introduced to the English Building during a tour of the quad as a bright eyed high school student.

When you got to the English Building, they'd tell you it used to be a women's dorm and that someone drowned in the pool there and haunts the hell out of the place.

First off... IT WAS NEVER A DORM... it was however a building for chicks, and did have a pool (although no one to my knowledge has been able to name the lost soul trapped inside)

The building was built in 1905 as the "Women's Building". As the University grew there was a need for a place for the fairer sex to hang out, and also the Women's Studies program (or whatever it was called) needed a home.

The women's building was analogous to the Men's Gym on Wright and Springfield. In fact the design of the main part of the building was similar, with a gym above a pool.

The Men's Gymnasium is now known as Kenney Gym, the Kenney Gym Annex (which was built BEFORE Kenney Gym/Men's Gym as the Military Drill Hall) was the original home of Illinois basketball and will have its own episode later in what I've decided will be a long ranting series of posts by me.

(This whole Men's and Women's building thing will be repeated in the 1930's when a new Women's Gym (now Freer Hall) and a new Men's Gym (Huff Hall) were built)

ANYWAYS, the first thing to note about the Women's Building is that it didn't look like the building we know and love to walk by today. (I dunno, maybe some of you had classes there?)

this was the original building:







It didn't take long for it to grow.. and in 19121a rather controversial (at the time) addition was contemplated which would expand the building to the east (onto the quad) and line it up with the Commerce Building (Henry Admin Building) and Lincoln Hall.

I have an article where James White (who is the architect of record for, like, seriously half the campus) complained about the proposed addition, so I'm not sure if he had much influence on the final design... but long story short this addition is what gave us the now familiar quad facade with columns and whatnot.



(the finished product)

As State Senator Henry Dunlap proudly proclaimed "a woman's place was in the home and her place on campus is in the Women's Building"

Because, hey, it was the early 1900's, he went on to say "I believe that a young woman's University education is unfishined in its most important part unless she has knowledge of the household sciences and arts that fit her for life's most important duties, those relating to the home"

The building, like all sorts of campus buildings, had class rooms and even a state of the art lab:


there was also rather elegant lounges:


it wasn't all backwards though, and there were forward thinking elements. for example this gymnasium was built a full century before 50 Shades of Grey came out:


and then there was the supposed ghost factory:


Today though it is the English building a name it gained in 1955, and the building is largely a product of a renovation from the late 70s.

So anyways, today (or at least in 2006):

note the balconies from the 1905 building:




the cupola of the original building can be seen from Wright Street or from the interior facing windows


you can see the effects of the renovations, where multiple floors of classes and offices were places in the original gym


look familiar from up above?




and like most buildings on the quad, there are some horrific areas in the basements where graduate students in the humanities dwell:
 
#3
Woodridge, IL
Great work. Lot's of interesting stuff that I didn't know about previously. Hope you do a post about Gregory Hall because that's where I spent most of my time as a History major.
 
#4
I plan on eventually doing just about every major building on campus (which is a lot of them)

My database has like 1,000 entries... (sadly the majority, like the Golf Course Cart Storage building, doesn't actually have any info on it)

There is a core of like 150-200 buildings though... I'm kinda debating how to proceed:

one option is to start big and then wind down to obscure buildings... I have a bunch of favorites I'm kind of excited to dig into the archives about.. but I do'nt want to knock them all out in a row. I think I'm going to bounce around campus to make it interesting... and prevent myself from being burnt out. As much as I'd love to talk about, say, Smith Hall... probably the most underrated and forgotten building on campus... it's going to wait a while.
 
#5
Mattoon-Charleston Area
Great job thus far. I hope you'll eventually get to the twins, David Kinley and Mumford Halls (Ag Engineering major). Looking forward to many more posts.
 
#6
Ordained Dudeist Priest
Johns Creek, GA
I had several classes in the English building, some of them in the basement. Never could find the danged pool. But did see a lot of deranged Humanities grad students milling about.
 
#7
Nice job. I feel like we could skip the campus tour in a week or two and just stay tuned here.

My biggest memory of Altgeld aside from Differential Equations was the addition not lining up height-wise. I always thought there was some irony in a university of excellence failing on that. I'm no architect and I am sure it's a lot harder than it looks. I just thought it was funny.

I also always wondered at the areas of grass that were trodden into dirt on the Quad. It always seemed that you should hold off on building your sidewalks until you see where people end up walking and then build them. They may have fixed that problem by now but in the 80's there was a strange looking patchwork of concrete sidewalks and mud strewn paths.
 
#8
ok, I'll wrap up this President's Day Holiday (if you're someone who gets presidents day off) with a really obscure building just to bore you...

...but first I'll use this as an opportunity to weave a bit of narrative into what I've decided will be an on again/off again pet project of mine

Like, well, probably every Land Grant University, or major state school for that matter, U of I went through growth in a number of phases.

- A humble beginnings phase for the first couple decades of its existence.. most of those buildings are lost to us, with a couple later exceptions.
- An early 20th century boom phase where the school saw rapidly growing enrollment, a product of burgeoning state growth and economic factors that made college more accessible and attractive to residents. This could probably get further defined into an earlier and later phase, and I could weave a bunch of stuff about the City Beautiful Movement and revival architecture into the story (and likely will). For now let's just say this is when the school gets a defined primary architectural style (Georgian Revival) and when core concepts about the future plan of the campus are developed (Main + Military Axis, the bell tower built in 2008 gets its genesis in the 1910's)
- A post WWII boom phase where modern architecture makes its way onto campus and there is considerable development around the defined core of campus.
- a more modern boom phase where areas of the campus were redeveloped, the Bardeen Quad was essentially created, the others were rounded off, and more infill growth happened (along with the development of the Athletic Campus and the Research Park)

So anyways, I'll use this opportunity to touch on one final building today (well, actually two, I'll get into that in a second)

This, my friends, is Parking Deck F-29:



Yes, seriously, I'm talking about a parking deck.

I mean, this is the only other picture I have of it:


Why?

Because it lets me harp on two things near and dear to me;
- History of campus development and redevelopment
- Efficient delivery of municipal services.

(also, at the very end, I'll talk about the stupid lengths we go to to protect our beloved corn)

Some facts:
Built - 2001
Campus/Cluster: South/ACES
Architect of Record: Desman Associates
it can fit 765 cars in a single-helix fashion.
It also is home to Urbana Fire Station #4, which is more the reason for this post...


*steps into time machine*

In 1900, if the PDF I'm reading is to be at all believed, the University hired a full time Fire Chief and became the first University in the world (or at least the US) to have its own full time fire department. (the chief, however, split time between putting out fires and being the University President's Chauffeur).

The University having its own fire department likely came from a number of roots:
- Lots of big expensive buildings
- the two cities had not completely grown around the campus yet
- the concept of a full time fire service was still somewhat in its infancy
- The campus didn't pay taxes, thus wasn't funding the municipalities which were providing fire services to taxpaying property.

The Fire Service grew over the years and grew and refined its mission like most fire departments. Originally essentially night watchmen employed by the physical plant paid to raise the alarm if something started combusting, the department grew into a full time force that responded to a variety of incidents, including medical calls. By the mid-90s it had nearly 30 employees. (which, taking out a couple front office staff came down to a couple engine companies worth of fire fighters per shift)

The fire department was located at 1306 Green Street, U. nestled behind and between the Engineering Hall and the Materials Science and Engineering Building. The structure, built in 1898, backed up the Boneyard approximately where there is a bridge and sidewalk over the creek.


In a historic survey conducted in the 80s the building scored 1.93 out of 5 and was called "a pleasant building, poorly situated".

the fire department operated for nearly a century, with apparently this being the only fatality in a building fire on campus (yikes)



By the mid 90s the equipment was aging and the costs of maintaining a stand alone department were no longer justified.

On April 1, 1998, the City of Urbana took over the operations at the Fire Station on Green Street. Of the 29 employees of the UIFD, 9 were hired by Urbana, 3 were hired by Champaign, 14 stayed with the U of I in some other capacity, and 3 received a severance.

To make room for the redevelopment of the Bardeen Quad, Parking Lot F-29, with a built in Fire Station, was opened in 2001, and the fire house on Green Street was ripped down the following year.

The City of Urbana continues to provide fire protection for the entire campus (including University properties in Champaign) through a PILOT* arrangement... which formed the basis for my final project for the Advanced GIS class I took in the fall of 2010. Yay me:


(* = Payment in Lieu of Taxes)

FINALLY, and I'm not going to comment on this... but if you were wondering "Was there some kind of stupid controversy over building a structure 3 blocks away from the Morrow Plots?"

The answer:



 
#9
Orange Krush Class of 2013
Stanford, CA
This is really cool! Great way to reminisce about being at home.

I don't think I ever had a class in the English Building, but we had a number of Illini Pride Executive Board meetings there, particularly before the renovated Lincoln Hall re-opened. So you can rest assured it's still contributing to important goings on at Illinois :thumb:
 
#10
Very cool that you are doing this! Definitely makes me miss campus a ton. Your mentioning of obscure buildings also reminds me of a quest I went on when I was an undergrad in the early 2000s. I had the goal of using a restroom in every single campus building.

With so many buildings, I didn't come anywhere close to accomplishing my goal... but I did use bathrooms in probably 70 or 80 buildings including off the beaten path ones like The Wood Engineering Building. Who knew that was even a thing? I wouldn't recommend using that bathroom by the way... not the best of all facilities.

I did rank and grade all of them based on atmosphere, reading light (in case you had to be in there a while), and comfort. Wish I still had those rankings. Harker Hall has some of the best bathrooms on campus by the way.

My favorite place though, was Smith Music Hall, despite their age and decayed state. The thing that is the best is you quite often have soothing music as the soundtrack to doing your business floating in from just down the hall.

Ahh, Memories.

:chief:
 
#11
Very cool that you are doing this! Definitely makes me miss campus a ton. Your mentioning of obscure buildings also reminds me of a quest I went on when I was an undergrad in the early 2000s. I had the goal of using a restroom in every single campus building.

With so many buildings, I didn't come anywhere close to accomplishing my goal... but I did use bathrooms in probably 70 or 80 buildings including off the beaten path ones like The Wood Engineering Building. Who knew that was even a thing? I wouldn't recommend using that bathroom by the way... not the best of all facilities.

I did rank and grade all of them based on atmosphere, reading light (in case you had to be in there a while), and comfort. Wish I still had those rankings. Harker Hall has some of the best bathrooms on campus by the way.

My favorite place though, was Smith Music Hall, despite their age and decayed state. The thing that is the best is you quite often have soothing music as the soundtrack to doing your business floating in from just down the hall.

Ahh, Memories.

:chief:
:eek::eek:
 
#13
Glad I checked in today. This is possibly the best thread on the site :thumb:. Seeing Altgeld brought back a lot of memories. I can't wait to see other buildings that I spent significant time in.
 
#15
Houston, Texas
Very cool that you are doing this! Definitely makes me miss campus a ton. Your mentioning of obscure buildings also reminds me of a quest I went on when I was an undergrad in the early 2000s. I had the goal of using a restroom in every single campus building.

With so many buildings, I didn't come anywhere close to accomplishing my goal... but I did use bathrooms in probably 70 or 80 buildings including off the beaten path ones like The Wood Engineering Building. Who knew that was even a thing? I wouldn't recommend using that bathroom by the way... not the best of all facilities.

I did rank and grade all of them based on atmosphere, reading light (in case you had to be in there a while), and comfort. Wish I still had those rankings. Harker Hall has some of the best bathrooms on campus by the way.

My favorite place though, was Smith Music Hall, despite their age and decayed state. The thing that is the best is you quite often have soothing music as the soundtrack to doing your business floating in from just down the hall.

Ahh, Memories.

:chief:
Post of the Year!
 
#17
ok, let's get in the way back machine and talk about the oldest building still standing on campus:

Mumford House


First, some facts:
Built: 1870
Style: Victorian Gothic Revival
Preservation Score (out of 5): 4.14

Original Use: Model Farm House, home of the dean of agriculture

Subsequent uses: Offices

Current use: presumably some study on how long it takes wood to rot.



As most of you probably know, the University of Illinois was founded as a result of the Morril Land Grant Act... which gave each state a tract of federal owned lands to sell off to fund the creation of schools in each of the many states.

(reading heavily from wikipedia here) Since before 1850 there were calls from the western states for the creation of agricultural colleges, and as far back as 1853 the Illinois General Assembly passed a resolution asking the federal government to enact a land-grant bill.

An key leader in the movement was Jonathan Baldwin Turner, a professor at Illinois College in Jacksonville who would later be involved with the early years of the University of Illinois and would get his name slapped on a sort of ugly modern building across what would one day become the South Quad.

The mission of the Land Grant act was to:
without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military
tactic, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic
arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to
promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits
and professions in life.


Martial and industrial aspects will be covered with other buildings... but suffice it to say the emphasis on industry and agriculture is what set land grant schools like Illinois apart from, say, the Illinois State Normal College, which was recently established up in North Bloomington (which would just rename itself to "Normal, IL" to reflect the type of school in town) to churn out teachers.

An early campus map shows the part agriculture played in the institution:



In 1871 a house, simply called the Farm House, was built down in the Horticulture Farm grounds as a model homestead "designed to afford a fair model for a farmer's house [with a] cellar under the whole, walled with hard brick and having a cement floor". It contained a "laundry [area], large cistern, and ample cellar in 2 compartments, one for dairy and other for vegetables... [and had a] front door sheltered by [a] pleasant verandah and [a] front hall [that] directly leads to [the] office, parlor and kitchen". also, three greenhouses originally accompanied the building.

it was lovely.

It also gave the dean of the College of Agriculture a place to stay.

The first resident was Dean Thomas J. Burrill, who lived there from 1870-1877 and paid roughly $150/year in rent (the modern building with his name is located just east of the quad). Eugene Davenport (of Davenport Hall fame) and George Morrow (who got no buildings named after him because of his constant plotting also lived there).



But the name that stuck to the building was that of Herbert Mumford, Dean of Agriculture 1922-1938. Herb managed to live in the building for almost 33 years, so today we know it simply has Mumford('s) House.

Being South of Pennsylvania Avenue, it took a while for the campus to creep down to and around Mumford House, by the 1910's what was the Horticulture Grounds was quickly being turned into brick and limestone buildings.

The Stock Pavilion showed up in 1914, The New Agriculture Building (later Mumford Hall) in 1923, the New Commerce Building (later David Kinley Hall) in 1924, and the Architecture Building in 1927. The area would remain a mix of newer buildings and older ag related buildings with farm houses until the 1990s when Temple Buell Hall came through and pretty much boxed off what would become the South Quad.


The building was taken over by College of Fine and Applied Arts in 1939 as a studio for artists in residence.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.



The building remains a bit of an enigma on campus. Until the building was listed as a historic structure, it literally was never thought of as being a permanent structure on campus. Any number of plans for the campus drawn up from the late 1800's through the 60's and 70's show the development of a south quad (or something like it) and the formalization of the "Military Axis" that runs east/west. There have been been various plans to put up some phallic structure to mark the intersection of these two axis... which was finally accomplished with McFarland bell tower.

There have been talks of picking up the building and moving it somewhere...

hell, anywhere... (a couple homes have been shuffled around town... I'm looking at you, Taft House)

but those haven't come to fruition either.

In 2010 some of the later additions to the house were ripped off and the BOT committed to remodeling the building... but that hasn't gone anywhere... so it remains a relic on the South Quad, slightly off-center and juxtaposed between the various buildings that have sprung up around it.
 
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#18
Reading about the firehouse, I was surprised on yesterday's tour of campus how far it is from the Morrow plots. They had to really stretch to worry about shadows from that building.

They still tell the tale of the ghost and Altgeld being part of a disseminated castle.

Alma looks great all restored and Lincoln Hall has gone from being a gross building to something a lot grander.

I was surprised they don't show students the ARC and that Illinois Residence Halls is their example room. My recollection was that was one of the smaller room sizes. Miniature study desks in those rooms. BTW, Illinois still doesn't supply a micro/fridge in each room.
 
#19
Orange Krush Class of 2013
Stanford, CA
Reading about the firehouse, I was surprised on yesterday's tour of campus how far it is from the Morrow plots. They had to really stretch to worry about shadows from that building.
That surprised me too. I guess since it's mostly to the East, it would throw a long shadow in the morning in the direction of the plot - if it were the same building due North or even South, wouldn't be an issue at all.

Of course, they built the IGB after this (2006) just next to the Morrow plots on the East side, so now I'm curious how much shadow analysis had to be done on that building.
 
#20
This is a great thread--thanks for the work on it!

One quibble about the English building--pretty sure it was originally the Woman's Building--not Women's Building. Link: https://books.google.com/books?id=jMEXfLQNweEC&lpg=PA39&dq=the%20name%20of%20the%20woman's%20building--with%20woman%20in%20the%20singular&pg=PA39#v=onepage&q=the%20name%20of%20the%20woman's%20building--with%20woman%20in%20the%20singular&f=false

Not sure why...the best I can think of is they meant it kind of like "for the betterment of Woman" in the way one might say "the betterment of Man." That's a complete guess, obviously.

(That chapter on Isabel Bevier is pretty interesting, fwiw.)