Kresge Centennial Hall

Funds for the construction of Kresge Centennial Hall were raised as part of the Northwestern’s Centennial Campaign in 1951. The need for new classroom and faculty office space had been apparent for some time, but with the end of World War II and the growth in the University’s student population in the late 1940s, the need became more urgent. Planning for activities to commemorate the centennial of its founding included raising money to modernize its campuses, recruit new faculty members, and develop new programs. The University kicked off the year-long centennial celebration on Founders Day, January 28, 1951. Throughout the year, meetings, convocations, and conferences were held throughout the University. More than eight million dollars was raised for needed improvements, with three million dollars designated for the construction of a new classroom building. The Kresge Foundation gave half of the money earmarked for the building, which would be named Kresge Centennial Hall in honor of Sebastian S. Kresge, founder of the S.S. Kresge retail chain.

The building was designed in Lannon stone with Indiana Limestone details by the architectural firm of Holabird, Root and Burgee. Groundbreaking for Kresge Hall was held on June 13, 1953, and the cornerstone was laid on Founders Day, January 31, 1954. As originally constructed, it held ninety-six offices, thirty-two classrooms that could accommodate 1300 students, sixteen research labs and fifteen special purpose rooms. The building was opened for classes in the fall of 1954, with a formal dedication ceremony, attended by members of the Kresge family, was held on June 11, 1955.

In 2001, plans were made to significantly renovate the interior of Kresge and connect the southern wings of the building with a new four-story addition, designed by DeStefano and Partners. The new wing allowed many of the humanities departments scattered throughout the Evanston campus to be located in one building. The new building was named Crowe Hall in honor of the Mary Jane Crowe Foundation, which made an important contribution toward the construction of the building. Additional funds came from the Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Foundation. Crowe Hall opened in the fall of 2003.

Kresge Hall: exterior with trees in foreground
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Quick Facts

Date: 1954

Architect: Holabird, Root & Burgee

Named for: Merchandiser Sebastian S. Kresge

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