Iowa State University re-dedicated one of the signature buildings on campus Friday. Morrill Hall underwent a renovation that cost just over 10-million dollars to complete. Tanya Zanish-Belcher, the head of special collections for ISU’s museums, says Morrill Hall was the second building on the school’s Ames campus.
She say the building was built in 1890 and dedicated in 1891.
Zanish-Belcher says the building was named for Senator Justin Morrill of Vermont who introduced the Morrill Act. She says Iowa was the first state to accept the Morrill Act that used the sale of public lands to finance public education for everyone. Zanish-Belcher says Morrill Hall was a multi-purpose building that had a connection to many people on campus.
Zanish-Belcher says the building was originally the library, museum and chapel. Later the building held the extension department, communications, the music department, photo service, so many different people worked there. The building eventually fell in disrepair and was closed. Zanish-Belcher says they had water issues, insect issues and bat issues in the building, and by the time the building was closed in 1998, she says the building was dangerous.
Zanish-Belcher says the building was in danger of going away before the movement to save it. She says there were talks about tearing the building down, but then when President Gregory Geoffroy came to the school, a discussion began about saving the building. That discussion in 2002 led to a fundraising effort after many people said the building should be saved. Zanish-Belcher says the renovated building is "spectacular."
Zanish-Belcher says the building takes the best of the past, and recreates it, and takes Iowa State into the future. The renovated building houses the new Christian Petersen Art Museum, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, and the Textiles and Clothing Museum Center for Visual Learning.