Knox College’s Alumni Hall is a grand Romanesque structure completed in the early 1890’s. Originally it housed a central large 600-seat auditorium flanked by two wings that housed debate societies. Through its life however, Alumni Hall was continually modified to provide a variety of uses including a theater, a library and, in the lower level, a shooting range for ROTC target practice. In the early 1980’s due to a number of structural, code, and accessibility problems, Alumni Hall was closed. It sat empty for the next 35 years, a painful reminder at the center of campus that the College was not taking full advantage of its historic resources.
With the change of administration, the College was determined to breath new life into Alumni Hall. The exterior was completely stabilized. The load-bearing walls were repaired, the exterior windows were restored, and the slate and copper was replaced.
A different approach was taken on the interior. The existing wood floor structure was demolished and replaced with a steel structure that aligned all floors and opened at the center to fill the space with natural light. In order to give new life to this historic structure, it was critical to fill it with functions that would be actively used by students, alumni, and visitors of the College. These new activities include a visitors’ center/museum, alumni relations, admissions, financial aid, and community service. The completed project has become a gateway connecting the College with the community.