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North Hall celebrates century as part of UWRF

February 7, 2014

The second oldest building on the UW-River Falls campus is turning 100 years old this year.

North Hall was finished being built on June 12, 1914, according to the University’s website, and affirmed that UWRF, then the River Falls Normal School, was here to stay.

Throughout the past 100 years, many things have changed about North Hall, from changes to the building itself to which departments have called the building home.

Originally, the building was home to the University’s basketball court, the economics department, biology department and math department. All three departments moved out when the Agriculture Science Building was finished in 1966, according to the University Archives. The math department have since moved back into North Hall.

In 1927, a $150,000 addition was built onto the building, which included a swimming pool in the basement of the building, according to a Student Voice story in 1979.

The basement would be home to both the pool and the basketball court until 1963, when the court became two lecture halls, and a floor was put over the swimming pool and the space became used by the drama department, according to University Archives.

In 1968, the on-campus radio station, WRFW made the basement of North Hall its home, something which was far from a match made in heaven.

“It was a poor place for a radio station. Every summer the place would flood with rains, and in the winter there was no heat,” said Lorin Robinson, chairman of the journalism department in 1979, to the Student Voice at the time. “It wasn’t uncommon to see news readers reading copy with mittens on.”

WRFW would eventually move to its current home on the third floor of the building in 1976.

Between 1975 and 1980 more departments left the confines of North Hall when the Centennial Science building was completed.

Despite all of the movement of departments, as well as the changing of the building itself, some things have remained the same in North Hall for the past 100 years.

One notable constant is the invasion of wasps in the fall and the spring. Facilities Planning and Management Executive Director Mike Stifter said that the wasps continue to descend upon the building, especially when spring comes early, like it did in two years ago.

UWRF alumnus Doug Ricci also remembers the wasps quite well.

“I remember that the bees always seemed to take my focus away from what was being taught –or at least that is what I used as an excuse,” Ricci said.

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the University held an event celebrating 100 years of North Hall in the buildings auditorium. Those attending the event could see the history of the building laid out on different posters created by the University Archives.

Ironically, the auditorium where the event was held, will be the next thing in the building to change.

The auditorium will be redone in the coming months. Stifter said that the project was hoped to be done by this spring, but due to some delays, the new target date is in late summer or the fall semester.

As a part of the Rodli Hall renovation, more changes will be coming to North Hall as well. When the Rodli project is complete the Financial Aid Office and the Registrar’s Office will leave North Hall for Rodli Hall.

Changes are a part of history that is simply woven into the fabric of North Hall. But at the end of the day, the more things change, the more they stay the same.