Luther College

Building Name

Main III

Year Built


Architectural Style

International Style

This is the third “Main” building, constructed in 1952. The prior two Mains were both destroyed by fire, the first Main in 1889 (built 1865), the second in 1942 (built 1890). Because there were three buildings carrying this name, they are commonly distinguished by Roman numerals. All three have occupied essentially the same prominent site on campus overlooking the central green. When Main II burned down, World War Two and postwar construction restrictions along with difficulties in obtaining labor and materials, delayed completion of the present Main III until 1952. It houses the college’s administration offices, classroom space, and faculty offices for several academic departments. Unlike the first two Mains, which were massive, heavy looking buildings, Main III’s International Style presents a streamline, airy appearance. All three Mains had tall towers, but Main III’s is more robust, and more prominent because its side wings are both low. In essence, Main III is three rectangles of different scale and height that intersect linearly. Main III’s tower offers more functional space also. Based on historic photos, the earlier Mains’ towers mostly marked the entrance and bell towers. From the new Main’s 1952 dedication pamphlet: “In the north wing, which has three floors, are eighteen classrooms of varying sizes. In the south wing, which has two floors, nineteen administrative offices and supply rooms, with additional rooms for student government and publications, are accommodated. The distinctive six-story tower rises between the two wings and gives space for twenty-seven offices for faculty use…” In the late 1960s or early 1970s, the aluminum windows were changed out for combination windows with dark gray panels on the top part of the opening. The tower windows have since been returned to a configuration that more closely matches the original.

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