Elmhurst U. to Preserve Numerous Architectural Elements from Memorial Hall

March 13, 2024 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

memorial hall

As Elmhurst University builds a new home for health sciences education, new homes also will be found for numerous architectural and historical treasures that will be preserved from its next-door neighbor, Memorial Hall.

After the $30 million Health Sciences Building is completed in the spring of 2025, the University will remove a number of Memorial Hall’s distinctive exterior entrance pieces, as well as bronze plaques, the skylight and other fixtures from inside Memorial before the building is scheduled to come down that summer.

“As we construct a new, state-of-the-art learning environment on campus, it’s important that we also honor the esteemed history of the building that has served Elmhurst students for more than 100 years,” President Troy D. VanAken said.

The building now known as Memorial Hall opened in 1922 as the new, larger campus library. The fundraising effort for the $65,000 library was led by a young student named Reinhold Niebuhr, who would go on to become one of the most prominent American theologians of the 20th century. The building was named Memorial Library, to honor members of Elmhurst’s foundational church who were killed during World War I.

In the 1970s, after the A.C. Buehler Library was completed, Memorial Hall became home to the Deicke Center for Nursing Education. When it became clear in recent years that better health science facilities would be necessary to meet growing student demand and changing educational needs, it was determined that Memorial Hall could not be renovated in a way that would give students the kind of collaborative, accessible educational environment they required.

Until the new building is finished, students will continue to take courses in Memorial Hall and elsewhere on campus. The new, 45,000-square-foot building will house the nursing, occupational therapy and communication sciences and disorders programs, as well as the Jans Military and Veterans Center. The land Memorial Hall once occupied, just east of the new health sciences building, will become green space.

Some of the architectural and historical items from Memorial Hall that will be preserved include:

  • The exterior pillars at the entrance
  • The engraved limestone rosette and cornerstone
  • The “Memorial Library” limestone piece over the entrance
  • The stained-glass skylight in the lobby
  • Bronze plaques with the names of the soldiers who died

The historical pieces will be repurposed or relocated around campus—including inside the new building—as the University incorporates its past into ongoing efforts to strengthen its inclusive community.

The new Health Sciences Building and grounds are scheduled to welcome students in the fall of 2025.

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