Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Beecher Hall

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Institution Name: Illinois College
Original/Historic Place Name: Beecher Hall
Location on Campus: 308 Lockwood Pl.
Date(s) of Construction:
1829-1830original construction Kerr, James
Designer: James Kerr
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Federal (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: brick
Walls: brick and plaster
Roof: cedar shingles
ca. 1830residence hall
ca. 1830library
ca. 1830chapel
ca. 1830classrooms (and science laboratories)
ca. 1843academic department building (medicine)
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (meeting hall for Sigma Pi and Phi Alpha literary societies)

Beecher Hall is the cradle of higher education in Illinois and was the site of the first class meeting on January 4, 1830. Work on the south half of the building began in 1829, and the north half was completed in 1830. The first medical school in Illinois was established on the site in 1843. The two-story structure is named for Edward Beecher, the first president of Illinois College and an older brother of acclaimed author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Explorer John Wesley Powell resided and studied in Beecher Hall, and William Jennings Bryan, the great orator and three-time presidential candidate, honed his public speaking skills here as a student and member of Sigma Pi Literary Society. Mark Twain, Horace Greeley, Frederick Douglass, Daniel Webster, and Stephen A. Douglas are among the notable figures who were guests of the Sigma Pi and Phi Alpha literary societies, which continue to meet regularly in Beecher Hall. The U.S. Postal Service called attention to the building's history with a 1993 postal card that marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the state's first medical school.


Caine, L. Vernon. To Heights Beyond. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1986.

Frank, Charles E. Pioneer's Progress: Illinois College, 1829-1979. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979.

Hopper, Doris Broehl. David A. Smith: Abolitionist, Patron of Learning, Prairie Lawyer. Jacksonville, IL: Branstiter Printing Company, 2003

Koeper, Frederick. Illinois Architecture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Kren, Robert. Beecher Hall, Illinois College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1974.

Rammelkamp, Charles H. Illinois College, a Centennial History: 1829-1929. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1928.

Turner, Paul Venable. Campus: An American Planning Tradition. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.

Yeager, Iver F. Julian M. Sturtevant--1805-1886: President of Illinois College, Ardent Churchman, Reflective Author. Jacksonville, IL: Trustees of Illinois College, 1999.

Yeager, Iver F., ed. Sesquicentennial Papers--Illinois College. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982.


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Last update: November 2006