If you studied language, literature, pedagogy, oratory, or psychology at the University, chances are you did so in that grand English Renaissance Revival building known as Folwell Hall.
Workers laid roof tiles during Folwell construction ca. 1906-07. Note the gargoyle in the background: the four gargoyles originally on the building disappeared within a year or two, probably damaged by water leaking into them.
Photo from the Minnesota Historical Society
When Folwell was built in 1906--replacing Old Main after it burned down in 1904--it was considered the finest building of any state institution. It still is beautiful, with its keystoned arches and gables, pillars, parapets and porches, balustrades, chimneys (26 of them), granite stairs and wrought iron railings, polished wood, and Italian marble walls and floors.
Not to mention the cherubs, cats, eagles, gargoyles, and gophers peering down from the architraves to chastise students who arrive late to class.
It's a cool building--but its daily denizens say it's too darn hot.
Plus it lacks the digital technology that enables classrooms "to talk to the world" as students learn foreign languages and cultures. Good reasons why both the University and the State put its renovation at the top of their legislative priority lists. The bonding bill that passed and was signed into law by the governor in March includes $23 million for Folwell. Thousands of students and CLA supporters had contacted their legislators and the governor's office to support its passage.
According to Minnesota Student Association President Paul Strain, who minors in German studies and has had classes in Folwell for six semesters, "It's hot during the summer, it's hot during the fall, it's hot during the spring, and it's almost way too hot in the winter. The HVAC system is just a mess, and the electrical capabilities aren't really conducive to the new ways of teaching."
These are important considerations for a building where, among other things, students strive to perfect their Spanish or Japanese as they prepare to be tomorrow's teachers, translators, international traders, and attorneys.