Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Old Main

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Institution Name: Bethany Lutheran College
Original/Historic Place Name: Old Main
Location on Campus: front, overlooking Minnesota River Valley
Date(s) of Construction:
1911addition of modern entrance
n. information unknown
Designer: unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: Kasota stone
Walls: soft brick
Roof: asphalt shingle, originally slate
ca. 1911classrooms
ca. 1911residence hall (some faculty)
ca. 1911chapel
1911-present (2006)administration
1911-present (2006)dining hall
1911-present (2006)residence hall (women's)
ca. 2004-present (2006)student union

Old Main was constructed in 1910 and 1911 to be the first of several buildings for a Lutheran Women's College. The building is constructed with concrete and wooden beams, and a soft red brick manufactured in Mankato and used in many local buildings, some of which still stand. Joined to it to the north is a classroom building. A similarly constructed but larger conservatory/music building was to be constructed at the south end. The latter as well as other planned buildings were never constructed. A shortage of money prevented even the completion of interior painting until 20 years later. The women's college failed in 1926 and was purchased by the a small Norwegian Lutheran church body and became co-ed.

Until 1959, this building housed the entire campus population, including a few faculty members. Chapel, dining room, and some classes, as well as the administration and library were housed there. It represents the history of the institution until 1969 when, in addition to a gymnasium constructed in 1959, a men's dormitory and a library were constructed on the campus. Since then the campus has grown considerably, with six buildings constructed since 1990, all of red brick with Kasota stone trim.


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Last update: November 2006