Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Old Main

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Institution Name: Macalester College
Original/Historic Place Name: Old Main
Location on Campus: 100 Macalaster St. (center of campus)
Date(s) of Construction:
1885original construction Willcox, William H.
1993complete renovation
Designer: William H. Willcox
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Romanesque revival, Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: limestone
Walls: brick
Roof: asphalt shingle
ca. 1885gymnasium
1885-present (2006)faculty offices
1885-present (2006)classrooms
1885-present (2006)old main

Old Main is the oldest extant building associated with the one hundred and twenty four year old history of Macalester College. Macalester College is the outgrowth of the Baldwin School of St. Paul, organized by the notable educator, author, and historian Edward D. Neill in 1853. In 1874, Charles Macalester of Philadelphia donated the Winslow House (razed ca. 1890) near the Falls of St. Anthony, with the understanding that the school would be developed into a college. The institution was named Macalester College in his honor. In 1883 a syndicate of trustees bought the present site on Snelling Avenue for the location of the campus.

Old Main, the oldest remaining building on campus, was built in 1885 and adjoined the original campus building. The building was completely renovated in 1993.

Old Main is the architectural focal point of the center of campus, and almost every student has had classes in the building.


Macalester College. Macalester College--A Century and Beyond. St. Paul, MN: Macalester College, 1985.

Spaeth, Lynne VanBrocklin. Old Main [Macalester College].National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1977.


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Last update: November 2006