Old Gold: Building sees renovation, rededication, renewal

Old Gold: Building sees renovation, rededication, renewal

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Historic Stuit Hall once served as isolation hospital, art studios
Stuit Hall exteriorThe $3.7 million renovation of Stuit Hall, once known as Old Music Building, is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

(Editor’s note: The Old Gold series provides a look at University of Iowa history and tradition through images housed in University Archives, Department of Special Collections.)

One of Old Gold’s favorite simple pleasures is strolling down Jefferson Street in Iowa City: tree-lined with magnificent 19th and early-20th century homes and churches of varying styles, a healthy brew of historic architecture and innovative use of space to meet modern needs.

The city council recognized this in December 2012 when it declared a four-block stretch of Jefferson from Clinton to Van Buren streets a historic district. The action helps to protect an area long known for its passage from town to gown, from home to work. Few streets in town bridge these worlds as charmingly as Jefferson.

At the heart of this newly designated district stands Stuit Hall, at the southwest corner of Jefferson and Gilbert streets. Newly renovated with a respectful nod to its roots, Stuit Hall was rededicated in 2011 as an addition to the Department of Clinical Psychology, nearly a century after it was built as an isolation ward for the university’s hospital. The $3.7 million renovation is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

Portrait of Dewey Stuit
Dewey Stuit

Stuit Hall is named, appropriately, for Dewey Stuit (1909-2008), a professor of psychology from 1938 until his retirement in 1977, with an interruption for service in the U.S. Navy in 1943-46. He served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1948 to 1977, overseeing significant expansion of the college’s curricula and establishment of an honors program.

In its first life, Stuit Hall was known as the university’s isolation hospital. A growing need for patient care in the face of tuberculosis and other diseases led to its construction in 1915. The medical campus, at that time occupying a two-block section east of Clinton Street, was growing rapidly, however, and in less than a dozen years construction of a new medical complex was under way across the Iowa River, west of campus. The isolation hospital on Jefferson Street became home of the School of Music, from 1928 until 1971. After the Hancher Auditorium-Voxman Music Building complex opened, the building housed art studios and was known as Old Music Building.

At the April 14, 2011, rededication ceremony, Regent Robert Downer noted Stuit Hall’s “cutting-edge” renovation in a Daily Iowan article: “When buildings can be reused and recycled without expanding upon the campus, it is a great advantage for the institution.”

And with that, Old Gold will start his walk home from work very shortly. Down Jefferson Street.

North face of Isolation Hospital, now known as Stuit Hall
North face of Isolation Hospital (now Stuit Hall), along Jefferson Street, 1917. Image from F.W. Kent Collection of Photographs (RG 30.01.01), Buildings Series, folder “Music Building (Old),” University Archives, Department of Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.
South face of Isolation Hospital, now known as Stuit Hall
South face of Isolation Hospital (now Stuit Hall), with balconies for patient use, 1918. Image from F.W. Kent Collection of Photographs (RG 30.01.01), Buildings Series, folder “Music Building (Old),” University Archives, Department of Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.

Contacts

David McCartney, Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries, 319-335-5921

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