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The Lincoln Hall Project « College of Liberal Arts & Sciences « University of Illinois

Lincoln Hall Project

The Many Faces of Lincoln Hall

Memorial Entrance Hall: Fit for a President

Original bids to construct Lincoln Hall were too costly, so the architects (state architect W. Carbys Zimmerman designed the original structure) curtailed certain “ornamental considerations.”

Entrance hall archway

Plans for the lobby inside the Quad entrance, however, also called Memorial Entrance Hall, were left relatively intact. In a letter, President James told the architect Zimmerman that the entrance should reflect the building’s name. “This would give you an opportunity to do a great thing which would linger in the memory of succeeding generations.”

Gettysburg Address plaque on the wall

The Gettysburg Address

A bronze plaque bearing the Gettysburg Address hangs on the south wall; it was originally placed in the floor but it was moved in 1955 to prevent people from walking on it.

Photo of Lincoln's bust

The Bust of Lincoln

The Lincoln bust, its nose yellow from students rubbing it for luck before exams, did not arrive in the entranceway until years later. The University wanted their bust of Lincoln to resemble Gutzon Borglum’s sculpture, which was displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building’s main rotunda for years. However, officials were turned down by Lorado Taft, the eventual designer of the Alma Mater, who disliked the sculpture. But his friend Hermon Atkins MacNeil had no aversions—indeed he had already created a full-size Lincoln statue—and in 1928 his bust of Lincoln assumed the niche he has occupied ever since, except for a day in 1979 when thieves stole the bust and mounted it on a tree stump at a local golf course.

In 1923, James White, the University supervising architect, asked Lorado Taft (eventual designer of the Alma Mater) for advice on putting a bust of Lincoln in the foyer resembling Gutzon Borglum’s bust of Lincoln, which was displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building’s main rotunda for years.

I regret to say that Borglum’s so called ‘Lincoln’ is my pet aversion; I would prefer not to help in this matter,” Taft responded.

Taft’s friend, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, created a bust of Lincoln that the University purchased for $450.