The President’s House was the result of a decree in 1928 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. This called for a “suitable President’s House...adequate for the probable needs and duties of the President of the University.” This house serves multiple purposes. First, it provides a place of residence for the President of the University. This includes all presidents to date excluding the first 6 that were in their presidential position before the building’s completion. The first President to reside in the President’s house is President Harry Woodburn Chase. On top of being the President’s home, this building also serves as a place to house distinguished guests. Notable guests have included: former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, actor John Malkovich, movie critic and Illinois alumnus Roger Ebert, and others. The President’s House has hosted over 200,000 guests for meetings, dinners, and receptions among other events.
BUILDING DESIGN INTENTIONS
The University of Illinois hired architect Charles A. Platt to design several buildings so that the university would have consistent architectural style. This “Georgian Revival” style of Platt’s architecture can be characterized by the building’s simple 1-2 story box frame with centered panel front doors and rectangular windows. These buildings also often feature a pitched roof and a red brick veneer facade. This style can be seen today when touring the south side of the University’s campus, and the President’s House is no exception.
BUILDING TYPE + PROGRAM
The President’s House is a 4 story building consisting of 3 floors above ground and a single floor basement. The basement includes offices, as well as laundry, recreational, and utility rooms. The first floors consist of a kitchen, dining room, living room, maid’s room, and garage among other rooms. The upper floors have bedrooms and additional offices.
ARCHITECT PHILOSOPHY / HISTORY
Architects James M. White and Charles A. Platt worked on several University of Illinois buildings. Charles A. Platt (1861-1933) is an architect from New York City who came to architecture through a background in etching, painting, and landscape design. His works at the University of Illinois are primarily concentrated on the south side of campus, resulting in the Georgian Revival style of architecture that can be seen at the university today.
10 other projects that Platt designed at the University of Illinois are:
● Mumford Hall (originally Agriculture, completed 1924)
● David Kinley Hall (originally commerce, completed 1925)
● Evans Hall (originally West Residence Hall, completed 1925)
● Huff Hall (originally Men’s Gymnasium, completed 1925)
● McKinley Hospital (completed 1925)
● Library (completed 1926-29)
● Armory Additions (completed 1927)
● Architecture (completed 1928)
● Agricultural Bioprocesses Lab (originally Dairy Manufacturers Lab, completed 1931)
● Freer Hall (originally Women’s Gymnasium, completed 1931)