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This building, now known as Lewis Hall, was initially planned as the College of Liberal Arts for the former University of the Northwest. When the University foundered in 1894, trustees of Morningside College purchased its property at a sheriff's sale. However, further construction on the 1890 quartzite foundation of the future Lewis Hall was not resumed until 1899, when Morningside College had outgrown the single building (Charles City College Hall) it then occupied. Lewis Hall, then called Main Hall, was fully completed in 1900 at a cost of $60,000.
Upon the building's completion it contained the majority of the academic department classrooms and faculty rooms. The President's office was also in the building, as was a two-story chapel that no longer exists. The building design was one of the first that architect Wilfred W. Beach sold in Sioux City, and includes many exterior decorative details: egg-and-dart trim molding below the first and second floor windows; round-arched or flat-arched windows in alternating bays at the second floor level; and thrid-story windows with a decorative brick surround treatment.
On April 29, 1912 a fire of unknown origin completely gutted the building. Students and faculty, who all lived on campus, raced to retrieve books and records from the library and various offices. A fund-raising campaign was begun almost immediately, and by the end of the year Main Hall had been rebuilt.
In 1956 the building was renamed to honor Dr. Wilson Seeley Lewis for his leadership in the formative years of Morningside College. In addition to overseeing the rapid growth of the College after 1897, President Lewis also spearheaded the fundraising campaign to complete construction of Main Hall.
The building has aged over time, a great many renovations and modifications have occurred inside the building, and a number of mechanical systems have been replaced and/or upgraded.
Orwig, Timothy T. Morningside College: A Centennial History. Sioux City, IA: Morningside College Press, 1994.
Orwig, Timothy T. Morningside College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1997.