The setting for University Hall was a crescent-shaped oak grove, bounded on the west by a ridge and the east by the lake, a site known by local Indians as the Eyebrow of Beauty. Construction of the High Victorian Gothic building took three years (1866-1869) and cost $125,000. University Hall was built of a dolomite marble known as "Athens limestone," chosen by professors and trustees, and quarried near Jolietthe same quarry which supplied the stone for Chicago's Water Tower. The construction materials were transported to campus by lake boat and rail (a side track was built to connect the railroad and campus). Evanstons Davis Street pier was rebuilt to accommodate stone and lumber arriving by lake.
The clock in the highest tower was the gift of the Class of 1879; its movement was built by Seth Thomas. In 1966 a new electrified clock replaced the old works, which were shipped to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The bells were the gift of the Class of 1880. The old entrance on the east side of the building was dismantled and a new entrance constructed, because of the violent Northeasters that periodically wracked the campus.
University Hall was Northwesterns main building until the construction of Fayerweather Hall in 1887. The original plan for University Hall included a library, chapel, and classrooms on first and second floors and dorm rooms on the third and fourth floors. The top floor also had space for meeting rooms for literary societies and for the natural history museum. Over the years University Hall has been the home of the central administration, the engineering school, a cafeteria, and faculty offices.
Architect: Gurdon P. Randall