Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Burgess Memorial Hall

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Institution Name: Eureka College
Original/Historic Place Name: Burgess Memorial Hall
Location on Campus: 300 E. College Ave.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1891-1892original construction Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
1892-present (2007)other (memorial building)

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

This massive Victorian Gothic edifice was constructed as a memorial to Otis Asa Burgess at the request of his widow Nancy Jane Ledgerwood Burgess, who provided a substantial financial gift to the College in 1891. In addition to being one of the first professors to teach at Eureka College, O.A. Burgess served during the Civil War as a captain in Company G of the 17th Illinois Volunteer Infantry--the unit that included many young men who had been students here when the war began in April 1861. Burgess Memorial Hall was constructed for $21,000.

Typical of the eclectic nature shown in Victorian styles, this building presents a hodgepodge of varied architectural devices from different periods. The arched entrances to the building are highlighted through the use of interspersed granite quoins. The northeast corner of the building houses a Gothic bell tower that in its original form (prior to 1934) rose fifteen feet higher than the present tower. The busy multi-gabled roof of Burgess Hall also contrasts with the more traditional roofs found on Burrus Dickinson Hall and The Chapel.

Yet despite these Gothic features, the use of round arched windows within an imposing brick facade is reminiscent of Romanesque styles. Additionally, the combined use of brick, stone, and wooden shingles to fashion the building's facade is also representative of the somewhat cluttered nature of Victorian styles.

If you look closely at the northwestern and southwestern walls of this structure, you will find complete examples of the ornamental tie rods that were used during the construction of the building. While the purpose of using tie rods during construction is primarily utilitarian, it was common in the Victorian period to fashion the ends of these devices in such a way that they became decorative items in and of themselves. The flower motif was popular in Victorian architecture, and these devices are attempts at providing an artistic (perhaps floral) signature .

I. Bibliographic sources:

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

II. Location of other data:

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