Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Old Main

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Institution Name: Drake University
Original/Historic Place Name: Old Main
Location on Campus: SE campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1883original construction Lankin, C. B.
1900addition of auditorium and enlarged front entrance Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: masonry
Walls: brick; masonry
Roof: wood (rafters); shingle
1900-present (2007)auditorium
ca. 1953old main (first building on campus, offices and classrooms)
ca. 2004-present (2007)administration (Drake's main administration building; office use)

Significance: architecture
Landmark designation:
National RegisterDrake University Campus Historic District (1988)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Completed in 1882, Old Main is not only a building of architectural merit, but is also significant to the development of Drake University's campus and history. Located in the north-central part of campus off of University Avenue, Old Main is the first brick building constructed on Drake's Campus and the oldest building existing today.

Designed by C.B. Lankin, a local Des Moines architect, Old Main is a three-story brick structure of rectangular shape with five front-facing gables and a centered bell tower. The sills and lintels are stone courses, and the windows feature decorative stone panels over the top center window. In 1900, an auditorium addition was added to the rear side of the building along with an enlarged main entrance featuring a rounded archway.

Today, Old Main is distinguished from the remaining buildings on campus as the sole nineteenth century architectural element. Exhibiting late Victorian characteristics such as narrow windows, the bell tower, and stone courses juxtaposed against a brick façade, Old Main is a campus landmark. It is featured in the National Register of Historic Places and currently houses Drake University offices.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Long, Barbara Beving. Drake University Campus Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1988.

II. Location of other data:
Government Offices

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