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New Web Site Focuses on Northwestern University Architecture

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January 12, 2005
The original Patten Gymnasium was the site of the first NCAA basketball tournament and of war rallies led by William Howard Taft and Warren Harding.

John F. Kennedy was among 20,000 midshipmen from 1941 to 1945 who used Abbott Hall as a Naval recreational facility and dormitory.

Scott Hall was home from 1970 through 1972 to the Amazingrace Coffeehouse, a decidedly countercultural establishment that cooked and sold healthy, low-cost food and hosted concerts by nationally prominent folk artists including Steve Goodman, Doc Watson, David Bromberg, Ry Cooder Otis Rush and the Incredible String Band.

These Northwestern facts were gleaned from a new Web site called “Northwestern Architecture” that was developed by University Library and Web Communications. It can be found at <http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives/exhibits/architecture>.

In its 150-year history, Northwestern's Chicago and Evanston campuses have been the site of more than 125 buildings designed by architects of local and international renown. Many of the buildings no longer exist. Others have been relocated, rehabbed or expanded.

Drawing on resources from University Archives, "Northwestern Architecture" provides descriptive historical text and 350 digitized images relating to 27 structures. These include landmarks like the Rock (originally a drinking fountain), Deering Library (built in what is called “collegiate Gothic”) and Old College (the University's first building, constructed in 1855 and situated at what is now the northwest corner of Hinman and Davis Streets in Evanston).

“We chose significant buildings and those that we most often get questions about,” said Janet Olson, assistant university archivist who, with Archives staffers Allen Streicker and Lori Osborne, wrote the historical descriptions. Additional buildings and landmarks will be added to the site.

The descriptions are accompanied by historic photographs and relevant original documents including an Amazingrace Coffee House poster and an 1895 letter from Temperance Movement leader Frances Willard about the significance of the new Annie May Swift Hall for women’s education.

In addition to increasing access to the architectural information, the site also helps preserve the historic materials by reducing the number of times they are handled.

The Northwestern Architecture site can be searched in several ways: "Quick Facts" displays the date and architect for each building; a basic search can be conducted by keyword (including architect or building name; and the advanced search limits by campus, interior/exterior view, or building use.