The University of Iowa

The residence is the location for 50 events and 2,500 guests annually, and includes...a ballroom


Presidents Residence


The residence was first occupied by President George E. MacLean and contains a third-floor ballroom (though difficult to access and seldom, if ever, actually used for public functions), second-floor private quarters, and a first floor made public for receptions, fund-raising, and other outreach efforts. Those public areas great as many as 2,500 visitors every year at up to fifty events. The State Board of Regents requires that the University president live in the facility.

The State Board of Regents requires that the University president live in the facility.

Due to such heavy use and decades of administrative reluctance to update the house, by 2002 the building was in dire need of significant rehabilitation. While the University presidency was vacant prior to the selection of David J. Skorton as president, the University, in conjunction with the State Board of Regents, began a comprehensive renovation project that included a garage addition to the east of the original structure, a complete overhaul of the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems, and the addition of an elevator to provide for improved accessibility. Major repairs to the kitchen and west and north porches corrected structural concerns and significantly improved the ability to host events.

Restoring the Georgian Revival home with period-appropriate details was paramount. The residence is a classically detailed structure that at least alludes to the Pentacrest in its use of the Ionic order at the entrance portico. Like those of Old Capitol, the portico columns are wooden. During the renovation, colonettes were also added to the west porch, better integrating it with the rest of the house. The addition to the east not only improved access but better balanced the overall massing of the structure. Careful brick selection and detailing helped to match the new to the original. Inside, period light fixtures were chosen for their compatibility with designs popular at the turn of the century, and a humble elegance in finishes was achieves as the house recollects its early years.

Editor's Note:  "Architecture 101" is an introduction to the architecture of the University of Iowa campus and some of the history of a handful of its buildings. New chapters will be added weekly beginning in mid-June and through the fall.  All installments of Architecture 101 are excerpts from the second edition of the book, "The University of Iowa Guide to Campus Architecture," by John Beldon Scott and Rodney P. Lehnertz. The guide was published for the Office of the President by the University of Iowa Press and will be available for purchase in late summer/early fall 2016.