Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Graham Hall

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Institution Name: Dakota Wesleyan University
Original/Historic Place Name: Century Memorial Hall
Location on Campus: east side of campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1901-1903original construction; groundbreaking May 8; dedication in 1902; completion in 1903 Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: Sioux quartzite; chalk rock
Walls: Sioux quartzite; chalk rock
Roof: wood; asphalt shingle
1903-1957other (music studio)
1903-1957gymnasium (women's)
1903-1957dining hall (and kitchen)
1903-1957residence hall (women)
ca. 1957-1980residence hall (men)
ca. 1980residence hall (co-ed)
ca. 1980-2002academic department building (art)

Significance: architecture, culture, history
Landmark designation:
National RegisterDakota Wesleyan University (1976)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Graham Hall is the oldest building on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus. Built during 1901-1903 and originally named Century Memorial Hall, it was renamed Graham Hall in 1910 to honor DWU President William I. Graham. It served as a women's dormitory until 1957, when it became a men's residence hall. By the 1980s the top two floors were used as a co-ed dormitory, with the lower two levels used to house offices and the art department. By the end of the 1980s, the top two floors were closed off, and it ceased being used as a residence hall.

At one point, Graham Hall was condemned. But numerous concerned alumni helped raise funds, and in 1996 portions of the exterior were restored. The lower two floors continued to be used as offices and for the art department until 2002, when the building was vacated.

Architects who have visited DWU agree that Graham Hall is the showpiece of the entire campus. The Sioux quartzite exterior is ornate, and the interior, though greatly changed, once featured decorative woodwork, fireplaces, a formal parlor, long hallways, and a dining room in the basement.

For more than 80 years, Graham Hall served as a home to numerous generations of DWU students, and as such, it is very significant to our alumni. Even the alumni who did not live in the dorm still feel strongly about preserving Graham Hall. Graham Hall is a contributing (historically significant) building within a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Coursey, O. W. A History of Dakota Wesleyan University for Fifty Years (1885-1935). Mitchell, SD: Dakota Wesleyan University, ca. 1935.

French, Edith M. Dakota Wesleyan University. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1976.

Goering, Violet Miller. Dakota Wesleyan University: Century I. Sioux Falls, SD: Pine Hill Press, [n.d.].

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections
Government Offices
Other: Institutional Advancement office at Dakota W.U.

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