Built in 1910, Guggenheim Hall is located on the northeast side of the Oval on the campus of Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins. As the headquarters of the school’s home economics program in the early twentieth century, the neoclassical building is significant for its role in the history of women’s education at the college. Today Guggenheim Hall is home to the Department of Construction Management, which restored the building’s interior in 2003.
Guggenheim Hall was made possible by a gift from US Senator Simon Guggenheim, a politician and philanthropist who also made large donations to the University of Colorado–Boulder and Colorado School of Mines. Designed by architect James Murdock, the two-and-a-half-story building had a symmetrical neoclassical exterior made of buff-colored brick. The north façade faced West Laurel Street, linking campus with the city across the street, and featured a large entry portico with four Corinthian columns. The south façade had an arcade and patio. Today the building remains one of the best examples of the neoclassical style in Fort Collins.
Home Economics Program
Originally called the Simon Guggenheim Hall of Household Arts, the building was intended to house the school’s home economics program. Essentially, home economics functioned as the women’s section of the college; at the time, many people involved in American higher education believed that women’s education should be designed to assist them in their roles as wives and mothers.
Just as the home economics program received a new building, it also got a new orientation thanks to Inga M.K. Allison, who became acting program head in 1910 and took over permanently in 1911. By focusing on research projects such as determining the effect of altitude on cooking recipes, she grounded home economics in the physical, biological, and social sciences. This shift made it possible to extend women’s education beyond domestic concerns. Under Allison’s leadership, home economics became an independent department in 1917 and started to train women for careers beyond housewifery. By the early 1930s the department offered women training in art, nutrition, teaching, and textiles.
A variety of changes altered Guggenheim Hall’s appearance during the twentieth century. In 1948 the south façade arcade and patio were enclosed to provide extra office space. In 1977 the building became home to CSU’s College of Professional Studies, Department of Industrial Sciences, and Industrial-Construction Management program (now the Department of Construction Management). Five years later, a brick elevator and stairwell enclosure was added to the east side of the building, and a skyway was extended from the elevator enclosure to the adjacent Industrial Sciences Building. The skyway was later removed, but the elevator and stairwell enclosure remains.
In 1995 Guggenheim Hall was listed on the State Register of Historic Properties. Two years later it narrowly escaped damage when a massive flood swept through Fort Collins on July 28, 1997, wreaking havoc on buildings across CSU’s campus. The flood waters stopped just south of Guggenheim Hall at a spot that is now recorded with a plaque.
In the summer of 2003 the Department of Construction Management led a restoration of Guggenheim Hall that rolled back decades of ad hoc remodeling. Students in the department analyzed the building and used archival records and photographs to figure out what the building looked like in 1910, then used donations from construction companies to restore the interior. Meanwhile, they also upgraded the building’s lighting and plumbing to efficient modern standards. In 2006 the restored building received the US Green Building Council’s LEED for Commercial Interiors Silver Certification for sustainability, making Guggenheim Hall the first university building in the country with that designation.