Parsons College: Ankeny Hall and President’s House, c. 1890

November 8, 2010

Parsons College original buildings, 1890, Fairfield IA.

View of Parsons College ca. 1890 in Fairfield, Iowa. At left, the central portion of Ankeny Hall was built as the college’s original chapel in 1875. That August, construction worker Ezra Brown died as its east wall fell, but work continued and the following June the new chapel held Parson’s first Annual Commencement Exercises. Des Moines architects Bell & Hackney added its west wing in 1882, and Burlington superintendent E. P. Dunham — brother of architect C. A. Dunham — added its east wing and modernized it in 1890 with a $15,000 donation by W. R. Ankeny of Des Moines, after whom the building was then named. With the main building measuring 58 x 76 feet and the two wings each 28 x 76 feet, the completed structure shown here finally measured 114 x 76 feet. It was entirely destroyed by fire in 1902.

At right, the President’s House was built in 1857 by Bernhart Henn as his residence and sold by W. H. Jordan in 1875 to Parsons College; it was restored by M.I.U. in 1986 and still stands today.

Click here for a photo and brief biography of Bernhart Henn.

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