The Historic Campus
The 1851 charter establishing the University of Minnesota specified a building site "at or near" St. Anthony Falls and set forth a structure that included professional schools of agriculture, law, medicine, and education as well as the traditional colleges of literature, science, and the arts. A preparatory school was built on donated land near the falls, but, in 1854, a dispute over the property title forced the regents to purchase 25 acres on the east bluffs of the Mississippi River. The University’s first permanent building, Old Main, was erected on this land in 1858. As the campus grew, this area became known as the Knoll.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Knoll was the University’s front yard. Today, largely intact, it remains one of the best examples of the park-like campus plans advocated by landscape consultant H.W.S. Cleveland. It is the Minnesota incarnation of an academic grove, sheltered by a fence, but visible to passersby.
By the turn of the century, the buildings constructed along the avenues surrounding the Knoll were the Armory (1896), Pillsbury Hall (science, 1889), Nicholson Hall (chemistry, 1890), Wesbrook Hall (medical science, 1896), Wulling Hall (first named Millard Hall, medicine, 1892), Eddy Hall (mechanical arts, 1886), Burton Hall (library, 1894), Old Main (1854 – 1904), Pattee Hall (Law School, 1889), and Music Education (Students’ Christian Association, 1888). In the early 1900s, Jones Hall (physics, 1901), Child Development building (formerly School of Mines, 1903), Shevlin Hall (1906), and Folwell Hall (1906) were added to the Knoll area.