University of Minnesota
Folwell Hall Renovation

Folwell Hall Renovation

Folwell Fun Facts

Year built:

1906-07, to replace Old Main, which had burned in 1904


Clarence H. Johnston, Sr., who was the University architect of record. Besides Folwell, he designed Northrop Auditorium, Walter Library, and Williams Arena. Johnston also designed the Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair and a number of buildings on the St. Paul campus.


$410,000 - $415,000 (accounts vary). Financed party through insurance money and a grant of $350,000 from the state, it was considered the finest building of any state institution in its day.


320 feet


National Register of Historic Places as a contributing element to the Historic Knoll District.

Architectural style:

An English Renaissance Revival style inspired by the combination of Jacobean and Elizabethan styles of architecture. Its main characteristics are flattened, cusped "Tudor" arches, lighter stone trims around windows and doors, carved brick detailing, steep roof gables, often terra-cotta brickwork, balustrades and parapets, pillars supporting porches and high chimneys as in the Elizabethan style. The Jacobean style kept the general lines of Elizabethan design, with a more consistent and unified application of formal design both in plan and elevations mixed with the prismatic rustications and ornamental detail of scrolls, straps, and lozenges also characteristic of Elizabethan design.

Exterior decoration:

Sculpted faces and animals such as cats, cherubs, rabbits, eagles, and even gophers. Replacement gargoyles were added at the four corners in 2007; the originals fell apart within a year of Folwell's completion.


First floor walls and floor, Italian marble; South entrance columns and walls, gray granite

Most interior walls are composed of clay tile with a plaster finish. The main historical spaces including: the main first floor corridor, room 128 the original Dean’s Office, room 131 the current library formerly Faculty Lounge, the two stairways, along with the first floor entrances.

Exterior walls are composed of brick with terracotta detailing and granite cladding at the base. The exterior stairs and sidewalls are also granite.

Number of chimneys:

26 ornamental chimneys were used for naturally ventilating the building. There were only 2 fireplaces in the building, which still remain in rooms 128 & 131.

Present tenants:

Departments of Spanish and Portuguese; German, Scandinavian and Dutch; French and Italian; and Asian Languages and Literatures.

Past tenants:

The alumni magazine; the German museum; the Gopher yearbook; the pedagogy, oratory, and psychology departments; and the Minnesota Daily. Also some notable English professors were past residents of Folwell Hall:

  • Frederick Klaeber, internationally recognized authority on Beowulf
  • English professors Joseph Warren Beach, Allen Tate, and Huntington Brown
  • Robert Penn Warren, U.S. Poet Laureate and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner

Recent Awards for the Exterior Stabilization:

Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Award 2009
Minnesota Finance & Commerce Award 2009
Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Award 2009

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