Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Oak Hall

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Institution Name: Urbana University
Original/Historic Place Name: Oak Hall
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1857original construction West, W. Russel
1978renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: asphalt
ca. 1857residence hall (men)
ca. 2004-present (2007)administration (business offices, office of the VP of Academic Affairs, and office of the Dean of Faculty)
ca. 2004-present (2007)faculty offices

Significance: architecture, education, history
Landmark designation:
National RegisterHistoric Buildings of Urbana College (1980)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Reverend Milo Williams, the Chairman of the Board of the fledgling College, was first to recognize the need for a residence hall, and in 1852, he convinced Colonel James to ask W. Russel West to design another building. The simple structure, begun in the summer of 1853, was to include a study, kitchen, dining hall, and a barracks-like dormitory room capable of accommodating sixteen male students. West's blueprints were supposed to encourage a sense of community. The Trustees accepted that theme, and planned to have the students live as a family under the supervision of a matron who would provide "the comforts and influences of domestic life."

Completed in 1856, Oak Hall is a squarish Greek Revival building. One of its most notable occupants was Thomas Coleman DuPont, a student at Urbana University from 1876-1879. His name is etched on the window sill and is still there to this day. DuPont later became a major donor to Urbana University and was awarded an honorary degree in 1922. He was a U.S. Senator from Delaware at the time.

Oak Hall has had upgrades throughout the years, but is in need of a complete renovation and preservation plan. It currently houses business offices on the first floor and faculty offices on the second and third floors.

Oak Hall is listed on the National Historic Registry as part of the "Historic Buildings of Urbana College."

I. Bibliographic sources:

Gannon, Loren S. Jr. Urbana CollegeHistoric Buildings. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1980.

Higgins, Frank. The Will to Survive--Urbana College (1850-1975). Urbana, OH: Urbana College, 1977.

Weisenburger, Francis P. A Brief History of Urbana University. Pamphlet. [Urbana, OH: Urbana University], 1950.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections
Government Offices

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Last update: November 2006