Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Old Main

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Institution Name: North Central College
Original/Historic Place Name: Main Building
Location on Campus: 30 N. Brainard St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1870original construction Van Osdel, John Mills
1891addition of south tower
Designer: John Mills Van Osdel
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Regionalist/Vernacular (Glossary)
Significance: architecture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: limestone
Walls: limestone
Roof: mansard
ca. 1870residence hall
ca. 1870other (student activity rooms)
ca. 1870faculty offices
1870-present (2006)administration
1870-present (2006)classrooms
1870-present (2006)old main
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (conference facilities/meeting space)

Old Main was designed by Chicago's first professional architect, John Mills Van Osdel, who also designed the Executive Mansion in Springfield and the first buildings on the campuses of Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. One of the oldest buildings in DuPage County, Old Main was built in 1870 of local limestone on eight acres of land donated by Naperville businessman Delcar Sleight. In the beginning, when enrollment ranged from 250 to 400 students, Old Main housed the entire College. Its $32,000 construction cost was provided by the citizens of Naperville and Zion Evangelical Church. A south tower was added in 1891. In 1997, the College undertook a $6 million renovation of the beloved structure, which made the building fully handicap accessible, brought a wide variety of student services under one roof, and created additional administrative offices and classrooms. Old Main is once again the hub of campus life.


North Central College & Naperville: A Shared History, 1870-1995. Naperville, IL: North Central College, 1995.

Old Main: Preserving a Tradition. Naperville, IL: North Central College, 1998.

Roberts, Clarence N. A Clear & Steady Light: A Brief History of North Central College. Naperville, IL: North Central College, 1981.

Roberts, Clarence N. North Central College: A Century of Liberal Education, 1861-1961. Naperville, IL: North Central College, 1960.

Savage, Charles. A College In Its Community. Naperville, IL: North Central College, [n.d.].


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Last update: November 2006