UIHistories Project: A History of the University of Illinois by Kalev Leetaru
        B U I L D I N G S

Lincoln Avenue Residence Addition / Louisa Catherine Allen Hall

Approval for what was originally known only as the Lincoln Avenue Residence Addition was given by the Board of Trustees on January 28, 1956 [1] and construction began on April 30, 1956, as a response to the increasing enrollment of women students at the University. With the construction of Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall (LAR) ten years prior, preparations had been made for the eventual construction of a second hall which would adjoin via the kitchen and food preparation facilities. [2]

The building was designed by Naess and Murphy, the same firm that designed LAR, and was built to house 669 women. [3] [4] Interior decoration was provided by E. C. Von Ammon and the construction was funded through $2,890,000 of revenue bonds through the Women's Residence Hall Revenue Bonds of 1956. The Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency purchased $2,570,000 of the bonds, while private investors purchased the remaining $320,000, with "the bonds maturing serially to 1996". [5]

It was opened for occupancy Spring Semester 1958 [6] and upon its final completion on February 1, 1958, the hall had 9 triple, 316 double, and 10 single rooms, with 100 rooms on the ground and first floors designed for paraplegic women. The facility was to "be the principle housing for these women as the building provides ramps, elevators, and a special toilet, shower, and sleeping room facilities for paraplegic women". [7]

A 4,500 square foot lounge "decorated in a tangerine and brown motif" anchored the central meeting space of the building, with "the north and south expanses of the lounge all glass and open to interior courts to create an atmosphere of openness". There was also a "music room with a grand piano, a library, a student meeting room, and reception areas" immediately off the main lounge space. Similar to LAR, the two wings of the building both had apartments for their Head Residents. [8]

A sewing room with "two cutting tables and four electric sewing machines" was provided on the ground floor for residents "to repair their own clothes or make costumes", along with a laundry facility with eight coin-operated washers. A "special work room" was provided for "making dance decorations, addressing invitations or other projects which can be left in progress for several days or weeks without disrupting other areas of the building". There were also two small lounges on each floor, each with a hotplate "for the preparation of light refreshments". As a convenience to its residents, each floor also featured a room "for storing formal dresses", and there were trunk rooms, pressing rooms, and a vending machine room for the building. [9]

The 650-person main dining hall was decorated in green, coral, and brown, with a "frosted walnut finish" for the tabletops. The hall was designed to allow for either "cafeteria line or waiter service". Floor-to-ceiling windows on the north and south sides were "covered in hand blocked linen drapes" and the entire hall could be subdivided into two separate dining rooms via a central folding wall. Folding walls were also provided on the west of the hall to separate it from two adjoining recreation rooms. By folding them back, the recreation rooms could be added to the space of the dining hall. One of the recreation rooms could also be subdivided via more folding halls for student meetings. [10]

Each room was provided with "a bed and desk-drawer combination, book shelves, and chairs [with] large storage drawers located under each bed". Students were expected to bring their own "bed linen, bed spreads and drapes". Rooms for paraplegic students had specially lowered "mirrors, book shelves, and closet rods to make them easily available to a seated person". [11]

Despite the amount of planning that went into making the building the ideal home away from home for its residents, almost immediately after completion, there were problems with heating the building. Almost one-third of the building's rooms (260 in all) could not be effectively heated due to a flaw in the design of the building's heating system, forcing the "coeds, the Housing Division and the dean of women's office to play 'musical chairs' with [the] semester's room assignments". Almost 200 of the incoming students were former residents of the Arbor Suites, who had just moved into the building ahead of the January 26 move out date of the suites and gotten settled. [12]

On July 15, 1957, the Board of Trustees considered a request from the Dean of Women to name Lincoln Avenue Residence Addition Louise C. Allen Residence, though no decision was made at the time. [13]

In May 1958, a 26-foot mural named "Salt Fork" was unveiled in Allen Hall, the work of Conrad Woods, a former University tennis player who became a graduate student in art. [14]

Allen Hall was ultimately named after Louisa Catherine Allen, who served as "Professor of Domestic Science and Preceptress" from 1874 to 1880. While there was no formal title of dean of women, she served in that capacity, being responsible for the affairs of all women at the University. She was married to Regent John Milton Gregory in 1879 and died in 1920. [15] She is remembered for her efforts to make the University more accessible to women. [16] [17]

Today Allen Hall is known as the home of Unit One, which features various nationally-renowned figures who usually take up residence in the Hall for up to a week and interact with students on a more intimate basis than otherwise possible. [18]

[1] March 23, 1956
[2] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[3] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[4] Note that Board of Trustees Proceedings, March 23, 1956 give the size as 636 women
[5] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[6] Illinois Alumni News March 1958 states that it had "opened for occupancy this semester"
[7] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[8] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[9] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[10] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[11] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[12] Daily Illini May 20, 1958
[13] Board of Trustees Proceedings, July 15, 1957
[14] Daily Illini May 29, 1958
[15] Lincoln Avenue Residence and Allen Residence - January 31, 1958
[16] Courier - Oct 23,1977
[17] See Louisa A. Gregory Notebooks, 1873-1879 - 2/1/4 for more information on her life
[18] See University Housing http://www.housing.uiuc.edu/
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