Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Old Main

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Institution Name: North Park University
Original/Historic Place Name: Swedish Mission Evangelical Covenant College
Location on Campus: 3225 W. Foster Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1893-1894original construction Modin, J. A.
Designer: J. A. Modin
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Romanesque revival, Victorian (Glossary)
Significance: education, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: limestone base with brick
Roof: currently asphalt shingle
ca. 1894gymnasium
ca. 1894library
ca. 1894chapel
ca. 1894dining hall (and kitchen)
ca. 1894residence hall
ca. 1894faculty offices
ca. 1894academic department building (housed all departments)
ca. 1894classrooms
1894-present (2006)old main
ca. 2004-present (2006)admissions office
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration (Financial Aid, Communications, University Relations, Business Office, and Office of the President)

In 1893, The Evangelical Covenant Church (North Park University's sponsoring institution) chose to move its school from Minneapolis to an area northwest of Chicago known as North Park. J. A. Modin built Old Main between the summer of 1893 and the summer of 1894, and classes began in the fall of 1894. Old Main was thus the first building on campus and housed all departments of the school. Atop the roof is the cupola, an open octagonal bell tower recognized as the symbol of North Park. The cupola was electrically lighted in 1926 and became a landmark for air pilots. It was the tallest point on the city's north side.

In 1982, Old Main was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was then completely renovated and today houses much of North Park's administrative offices. Both Old Main and its cupola remain symbols of North Park University and the local area.


Carlson, Leland H. A History of North Park College, Commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary, 1891-1941. Chicago, IL: North Park College, 1941.

Old Main Building [North Park College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1982.


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Last update: November 2006