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Old Main: Department Headquarters


Old Main

Dedicated in 1889, Old Main is the oldest and most recognizable building on Augustana's campus. Modeled after the main building at Uppsala University in Sweden, Old Main reaches its dome high into the sky; its architecture is so distinctive that it once served as a landmark for steamboat travelers on the Mississippi River. Old Main is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it is heir to the rich academic tradition of Augustana; generations of students have passed through its halls and classrooms; it is the one building that links every living Augustana graduate; and it is this historic building that the English department calls home.

Most of the English faculty have their offices in this most distinct of all of Augustana's campus buildings, and most department courses meet in its rooms. Historic Cable Hall on the second floor, which served as a faculty meeting and reception room from the late 1880s through the early 1900s, has been preserved in its original character and is now used as a classroom.

The classrooms in Old Main are not your typical university lecture halls. No: Old Main was built to house the liberal arts, and its classrooms are obviously designed for discussion rather than lecture. Accomodating class sizes of no more than thirty students, and displaying not the white-washed sterilized walls which characterize university lecture halls, but rather the grand architecture, eclectic decor, and well-loved look of over a century of learning, the rooms in Old Main contribute to the atmosphere of new ideas, self-exploration, and vocational pursuit that is so crucial to a true liberal arts education.

For more than a century, Old Main has served as the hallmark of Augustana's public image, and, more importantly, it is the building to which the reminiscences of nostalgiac graduates and the musings of current students inevitably turn when they call to mind their experiences at Augustana. Said Augustana graduate Julia Hogren ('08), "[Old Main] is the grandfather of campus buildings, and we expect its presence every single day of our college experience." No building could better serve as home to the English department. Click here to see more pictures of Old Main, from its construction in the 19th century to the present.

Old Main