Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Burrus Dickinson Hall

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Institution Name: Eureka College
Original/Historic Place Name: Recitation Hall
Location on Campus: 300 E. College Ave.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1857-1858original construction Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
ca. 1858old main (original academic building on campus)
ca. 2004-present (2007)administration

Significance: architecture, history, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterEureka College Administration and Chapel (1980)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The oldest structure on Eureka College grounds, this academic building originally known as "Recitation Hall" is one of the two campus sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was constructed in 1857-1858 at a cost of $16,000.

According to local legend, when the building was constructed the town of Eureka had not yet fully developed, so it was unclear which direction the building should face. Accordingly, the northern and southern faces of the building are identical (with the exception of a fire escape on the southern face), and as a result, it could be determined later what could be considered the front entrance to the building.

The building is characteristic of mid-nineteenth century Federal architecture with elements of Neoclassical Revival style. Symbolic of the young nation that borrowed the elements of Greek democracy and the Roman notion of republican government and combined the two harmoniously into a working system, Federal style architecture creates a staid structure that infuses Greco-Roman features to ornament its construction. The building incorporates four faux brick columns (with painted wooden capitals) and the triangular pediment - elements traditionally associated with Greek temples, and combines these with the Roman arch found in the windows and the portico. The portico of this structure, which also incorporates classical Corinthian columns, long served as the signature symbol of Eureka College. The portico also incorporates the "rising sun" window - symbolic of the national founding as well as the creation of a new academic institution. The original design of the building included a domed cupola which housed the campus bell, but this structure was removed from the building during renovations in 1905.

This building can be said to have been fashioned by the hands of abolitionists, as many of the College's Founders were associated with this reform movement. Elijah W. Dickinson, who in 1860 became the first graduate of Eureka College, claimed that as a youth he had hauled bricks to assist in the construction of "Recitation Hall." If one observes the eastern face of the building (looking toward the third floor level) the fragmentary remains of an ornamental tie rod can be seen. This device was used to support the walls during the initial construction of the building.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Knapp, Jana. Eureka College Administration and Chapel. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1980.

Rodriguez, Junius P. The Architecture of Eureka College. Pamphlet. Woodford, IL: Eureka College, 2003.

II. Location of other data:
Government Offices

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Last update: November 2006