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Overview

03

Owner

Luther College

Building Name

Korsrud Heating Plant

Year Built

1947/1966

Architectural Style

Collegiate Gothic

The Korsrud Heating Plant (1947)  and Brandt Hall (1949) are distinctive on the Luther campus because of their pitched, red-clay-tile roofs. Local architect Roger Olson, a member of the Altfillisch firm, told Wilfred Bunge in the 2000s that these buildings were the work of one of the firm’s young architects, but researchers preparing materials for the 2020 NRHP nomination found many references to Altfillisch as the architect of record. William Lockard, who entered the firm in 1945 and is the likeliest candidate as the “young architect” mention by Olson, is described in a newspaper article as the Brandt “architect in charge” and is mentioned in some letters related to Korsrud Heating Plant in the Luther College archives, signed some drawings and blueprint changes in the firm’s name, and appears on the blueprints as “Drawn by Lockard.” But clearly Altfillisch was taking overall credit for both buildings.

Named for Ole Korsrud, long-time electrician, night watchman, and engineer for the college, the heating plant replaced an inadequate older plant behind Main II (demolished c. 1952 to make room for Main III). As described (probably) by the architect Charles Altfillisch in the unsigned and undated file copy of the “Application for Authority to Construct (Non-Housing)” submitted to the US Civilian Production Administration about 1945, the project goal was to: “Construct a power plant, 42’ x 100’, 2 story, monolithic concrete first story, brick and con. block second story, concrete block partitions, wood roof framing, asbestos shingles [later changed to clay tiles], – a 90’ radial brick stack and approximately 1200’ of 4’ x 6” concrete [steam] tunnels.”  The project had been in the works since 1941 but was delayed by World War II. By 1946, with his plans gathering dust and the old boilers limping along, Altfillisch clearly had to plead the case with the federal government at a time when new housing was a top priority. Writing in the application, “The college has an enrollment of 400 of which 125 are veterans…This project has already been deferred during the war…Every effort has been made to eliminate from the project materials needed in Veterans Housing. All contracts were let from one month to four months prior to the issuance of CPA regulations restricting construction.”

The 1945 plans contemplated the majority of lower level space would be dedicated to the boiler room, with an equipment room on one end and an underground fuel room off the other end (buried in the hillside). The upper level was to hold a large shop area, restrooms, a tool room, and a campus laundry. Even by 1952 or earlier, the upper level was being used instead for classrooms, perhaps because of the influx of new students using the GI Bill. Today, the Art Department continues to use it as studio space because of the good lighting conditions. The function of the 1966 addition to the east endwall may be connected with either the art department or the power plant on the lower level. Since the building is sited on a slope, the east end is at grade, while the west end is lower by two stories. Long north and south walls are fully exposed.

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