Folwell Hall, University of Minnesota, East Bank Campus, 9 Pleasant Street SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Folwell Hall

Address: 9 Pleasant Street SE
Neighborhood/s: University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, East Bank, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Historic Knoll District, Minneapolis, Minnesota, University of Minnesota Old Campus Historic District, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1906-7
Primary Style: Renaissance Revival
Additions: Interior Renovation by Miller-Dunwiddie in 2012
Historic Function: College/university
Historic Function: Alumni Magazine; German Museum; Gopher Yearbook; Pedagogy, Oratory, and Psychology Departments; MN Daily
Other Historic Function: Alumni Magazine; German Museum; Gopher Yearbook; Pedagogy, Oratory, and Psychology Departments; MN Daily
Current Function: College/university
Current Function: Center for Language Studies
Other Current Function: Center for Language Studies
Architect or source of design: Clarence H. Johnston, Sr.
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Foundation: Granite
Part of the Site: University of Minnesota, East Bank Campus

University, East Bank, Historic Knoll District, University of Minnesota Old Campus Historic District Minneapolis Hennepin County

Folwell Hall, University of Minnesota, East Bank Campus, 9 Pleasant Street SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.9784168° N, 93.2353655° WLatitude: 44°58′42.3″N
Longitude: 93°14′7.316″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Reference URL: [Reference]
Level of significance: National
Primary Style: Jacobethan Revival
Year/s of Major Alterations: 2012


Folwell Hall is one of the most iconic buildings of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. It was built in 1907 by Clarence H. Johnston, Sr. to replace the Old Main that had burned down. Upon its completion it was named after the University's first president, William Watts Folwell. It now currently houses a variety of Modern Language departments and classrooms and has been recently renovated.



Folwell Hall was designed in 1906 by Clarence H. Johnston, Sr. as a prime example of English Renaissance Revival Architecture. Its construction cost was $415,000 for a 111,500 GSF building of 5 floors and constructed of Italian Marble, Granite, Clay tile and Brick. Folwell had held all of the following tenets: The Alumni Magazine, German Museum, Gopher Yearbook, Pedagogy, Oratory, and Psychology Departments, and the MN Daily. Now it is the center for Language studies from Spanish to Asian to Dutch.

William Watts Folwell

Folwell Hall was named after first president of the University of Minnesota, William Watts Folwell. Folwell was born on St. Valentine's Day 1833 in Seneca County, New York. He grew up to receive his B.A. in 1857 then his M.A. in 1860 from the Hobart College in New York. Folwell was also awarded the L.L.D.s from Racine College in 1870 and from Hobart College in 1878. Later on during the American Civil War, William Folwell served in the 50th New York Regiment of Volunteers as Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel of Engineers from 1862-65. After the War in 1869, Folwell became the first president of the University of Minnesota. As president Folwell had advocate free public high schools with a curricula to prepare students for Advanced Education. He was also the forerunner for closing preparation schools and junior colleges in Minnesota. While still being president Folwell also urged the creation of the Geological and Natural History Survey of 1872 and preserved the status of Minnesota's Land Grant College. After 14 years as president Folwell resigned his position for a smaller role of Chair of Political Science Department. He then retired in 1907, the year in which Folwell Hall was made. Before his death on December 18, 1929, Folwell wrote many books including Minnesota, the North Star State (1908), University Addresses (1909), Economic Addresses (1918), and A History of Minnesota (1921-30). Folwell was also the President of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts (1882-92), the President of the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners (1924-27), President of the Minnesota Historical Society (1924-27), and the University Librarian from 1925 until his death in his Minneapolis home.

Architectural Significance

Folwell Hall is architecturally significant because it was designed by Clarence H. Johnson, Sr., is an outstanding example of English Revival Architecture, has functioned for 106 years, and has won multiple awards. Clarence H. Johnson, Sr. was an architect from Minnesota that not only designed Folwell Hall but Northrop Auditorium, Walter Library, Williams Arena, McNeal Hall and the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, all of which are cherished by the Minnesotan community. The English Revival Architecture specific to Folwell Hall is rare to the Twin Cities area and was constructed to replace the original Main Hall of the University of Minnesota. The Main Hall has since been known as Old Main because it was the first building on the University campus and burned down prior to the construction of Folwell Hall. Folwell Hall is an interesting style because it is a combination of both Elizabethan and Jacobean English Renaissance Revival and is rare to the Midwest. The Elizabethan style is characterized by the flattened, cusped Tutor arches, stone trim around windows and doors, carved brick detail, steep roof gables, balustrades and parapets, pillar-supported porches and high chimneys. While the Jacobean style is characterized by the unified application of formal design of plan and elevation mixed with the prismatic rustications and ornamental details. Some things that are particularly unique to Folwell Hall is that of the sculpted faces and animals, especially the gopher. Folwell Hall won the 2009 Awards from both the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and Minneapolis Heritage Preservation. Since the renovation by Miller-Dunwiddie, Folwell Hall still contains all the original wooden doors, frames, fireplaces, decorated stair rails and the marble surfaced first floor.


Folwell Hall is located on University Ave SE. It is part of the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing element to the Historic Knoll Area of campus. The Historic Knoll Area consists of the oldest buildings on campus, it is located on the east bank of the Minneapolis campus in between Pleasant Street and the Bell Museum. Folwell is the 11th oldest surviving building that replaced the first building, Old Main. The University of Minnesota is responsible for Folwell Hall and it is not in any danger of being destroyed.


Folwell Hall is one of the most iconic buildings at the University. It is not only a look into the past through style but the future as well with sustainable reuse of older structures. Though it is not considered a national treasure it has a tradition that spans generations especially those who attended the University. Without historical structures how can one even know where one is not to even mention calling campus their alma mater. Though it may also not be universal unique its context and attention to detail is what makes it a masterpiece of the ages in Minneapolis. Even though I have never had a class in the 106 year-old Folwell Hall, I am have gone through it multiple times from a curiosity that sparks in anyone passing by whether that person is in CLA or not. Despite its age Folwell Hall does not need protection because even the University recognizes its importance.


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]

Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Related Links

Historic Register University of Minnesota Website


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