Maharishi University time-travel to Parsons College

February 7, 2011

Maharishi University of Management time-travel to former Parsons College, Fairfield, Iowa.

Now: Looking north on the campus of Maharishi University of Management, January 2011. At left is the Maharishi Veda Bhavan building; at right is the venerable Bernhart Henn mansion.

Then: The same view of Parsons College, ca. 1892. At left, Ankeny Hall was built as the college’s original chapel in 1875. That August, construction foreman Ezra Brown died when a truss broke and the building’s east wall fell, but the chapel was finished by January 1876, and that June it held the college’s first annual commencement exercises. Des Moines architects Bell & Hackney, designers of the Iowa State Capitol building, added a west wing in 1882, and Burlington superintendent E. P. Dunham added an east wing in 1890-91 with a $15,000 donation by W. R. Ankeny of Des Moines, after whom the building was then named. The three-story Ankeny Hall measured a stately 114 by 76 feet, and contained not only the chapel but the classrooms and library. But in August 1902 the entire building burned down, leaving only Henn Mansion and Ballard Hall, a just-finished women’s dormitory to the east.

At right, the President’s House was built in 1857 by Bernhart Henn as his residence; it was later named Ewing Hall after Thomas D. Ewing, Parsons College president in 1880-89. Slated for demolition, the building was restored by M.I.U. in 1986 and still stands today.

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