Loras College: History of Buildings

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles about Loras buildings. The series will look into the origin and culture surrounding currently standing buildings. The next article will examine the Loras Fieldhouse.

The Behemoth on the Hill. The building seen from three states. Keane Hall. However you say it, the fact of the matter is Keane Hall is an architectural masterpiece, and the face of the Loras College campus.

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Keane Hall’s construction. It is named after James (John) Keane, f a former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Dubuque from 1911 – 1929. One of Keane’s main desires was to be the bishop oversee Columbia College, now, of course, called Loras. When he arrived at Columbia, the school had an enrollment of around 300. At the time of his death in 1929, the enrollment had swelled to over 700.

The building was designed by  E.L. Masqueray, was, up until it became administrative offices, the only building on campus built pre-World War I to still be used for its initial purposes: dorms.

Imagine, if you will, waking up on a bright spring morning, and looking out the window and being able to see three states, a whole town, and about 200 miles into the distance. That’s a little better than Beckman, eh?

Architectually, Keane Hall is composed of different types of designs. It is a late Victorian form of a Craftsman style, with a touch of Romanesque influence.

The U-shape near the call stone foundation is common to many factories and intuitional buildings of the era. The chimney caps and repeating arches along the roof are of a Romanesque style. The eaves, flat-top dormer windows are also of the Craftsman style.Keane Hall was built on the hill above the Mississippi, and is a architectural landmark for the city of Dubuque. But, as old buildings go, with it comes a fair bit of folklore. For one, multiple hauntings have been reported, including lights in the circular windows in the stairwells (some of which are noe inaccessible) turning on by themselves. Also, rumor has it that its history is stained in blood. As a prank one year, several Loras students (at the time it was an all male-school)  led a cow up four flights of stairs. Now, cows are notorious for walking up stars just fine. However, they refuse to go down. The cow was, then, stuck on the fifth floor of Keane Hall. They struggled to think of a way to get the cow down, until the solution they were all avoiding seemed to be the only one: carry it down in pieces. They slaughtered the bovine in the middle of the fifth floor, and carried it down, literally, in pieces.

If walls could talk, Keane Hall would have a lot to say. Or moo.

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