Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Denkmann Memorial Hall

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Institution Name: Augustana College (IL)
Original/Historic Place Name: Denkmann Memorial Library
Location on Campus: 3520 7th Ave.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1909-1911original design Patton & Miller
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: granite
Walls: limestone
Roof: copper sheet
ca. 2004-present (2007)classrooms (language department)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center)
ca. 2004-present (2007)auditorium (concert hall)
ca. 2004-present (2007)faculty offices
ca. 2004-present (2007)academic department building (language department)

Significance: architecture, education, history, religion
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Denkmann Memorial Hall weaves together elements of two distinct architectural styles. Originally designed as the college's library by the Chicago architectural firm of Patton and Miller and dedicated in 1911, this stately Beaux-Arts building has Prairie School architectural detailing throughout the interior. Based on the elaborate architectural designs associated with the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, American interpretations of this style were especially popular with wealthy clients from the 1880s to the 1920s. The large, two-story, round-topped windows are flanked in the center by recessed columns. Also very common in Beaux-Arts buildings are the low relief carved swags on the cornice and the roof line balustrade combined with a carved crest.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Denkmann funded the building in memory of their parents. While the three Denkmann children (including Suzanne Denkmann Hauberg, whose sprawling estate is now Rock Island's Hauberg Park and Civic Center) were appreciative of the Beaux-Arts style, they were also interested in Prairie School architectural designs that originated in Chicago with Frank Lloyd Wright and his associates in the early 20th century. The Prairie School influence is especially evident in the carving directly above the main entrance, where the highly geometric patterns form a major contrast with the Beaux-Arts decoration at the roofline.

Denkmann's main floor is today home to the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center, a major repository of both genealogical information and modern research on immigration from Sweden to the U.S.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Brolander, Glen E. An Historical Survey of the Augustana College Campus. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Historical Society, 1985.

Historical Highlights of Augustana College, A Walking Tour. Pamphlet. Rock Island, IL: City of Rock Island Planning and Redevelopment Division, 2002.

II. Location of other data:

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