Building histories

Learn about the history of Altgeld and Illini Halls

Altgeld Hall

Altgeld Hall, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, was constructed in 1896-1897 and was first used as the University Library. The University Chime was installed in the Altgeld Tower in 1920, the gift of the classes of 1914 through 1921 and the U.S. School of Military Aeronautics.

Nathan C. Ricker designed the building, along with James M. White. An 1873 University of Illinois alumnus, Ricker was the first graduate of an architecture program in the United States. Named after Illinois Gov. John P. Altgeld, the building is considered one of the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Illinois. Altgeld served as governor from 1893-1897 and was a strong supporter of University of Illinois and contributed at a time when it went through significant growth.

In 1927, Altgeld Hall became the home of the College of Law. The Mathematics Department moved into Altgeld Hall in 1956. A centennial celebration was held June 16, 1997.

Illini Hall

Illini Hall was built in 1907 as the University YMCA. It went on to be the home of the campus’ student union, Daily Illini, The Illio, campus’ Police Training Institute, and the Division of University Extension. The Department of Statistics began its residence in Illini Hall upon its founding as a standalone department in 1985, though math faculty had a presence in the building dating to about 1965. 

For more information about Illini Hall’s history, see the University of Illinois Library’s history page.


The history and impact of Altgeld Hall

An oral history of the Altgeld Chimes