Historic Harker Hall

The University of Illinois Foundation is located in Harker Hall at 1305 West Green Street in Urbana, Illinois.

Situated between the Illini Union and the Natural History Building, Harker Hall is the oldest building on campus, and underwent renewal in 1991, restoring the building’s Italianate exterior.

In an effort to restore the building to its original glory, Harker Hall regained its original mansard roof and its limestone south entrance stairway. A new plaza provides a formal entry from the Quad and features a fountain, public seating, landscaping and exterior lighting.


Fun Facts about Harker Hall

  • Renowned architect Nathan Ricker designed the building during his tenure as professor of architecture at the University of Illinois. The building displays his first major built work and represents his philosophy of combining historical reference with current technological advancements.
  • It was constructed in 1877 as the Chemical Laboratory and housed one of the best and largest laboratories in the nation at that time.
  • Ricker’s students made the millwork for the building in the campus woodshop and Ricker employed some students as draftsmen.
  • The roof and most of the chemical laboratory were destroyed by a fire (caused by lightning) in 1896.
  • Associate professor of architecture James M. White replaced the mansard roof with a hip roof, reducing the fourth floor to an attic. He also reconfigured the north and west entrances by removing the original exterior stairs.
  • From 1902 to 1927 the College of Law took over the building and later renamed it in honor of Judge Oliver Harker, who served as Dean of the College from 1903 to 1916.
  • From 1927 to 1989, the building housed classrooms, offices and laboratories for the School of Life Sciences.
  • In 1986, the building, which was scheduled for demolition, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Harker Hall underwent renovation in 1991 and is the building you see today.

Philanthropy in Action: The Renovation of Harker Hall

The Harker Hall renovation was made possible largely by private gifts from alumni and friends to the University of Illinois Foundation.

  • The building’s Italianate exterior was restored and it regained its original mansard roof and its limestone south entrance stairway.
  • A new plaza provides a formal entry from the Quad and features a fountain, public seating, landscaping and exterior lighting.
  • The interior of the building, including the structural system, was totally removed and replaced in a style sympathetic to buildings of the 1870s.