History of the Iowa Memorial Union

1910s


1911

  • Iowa Union forms as club for men of faculty and student body
  • Housed in former Unitarian Church (NE corner of Clinton St. & Iowa Ave.) until 1913

1913-1914

  • Brunswick Bowling Parlor Building (121-123 Iowa Ave.) becomes temporary Union headquarters in Dec. 1913
  • Union membership at 500 males; activities include Friday night dances at Old Armory, concerts, and debates

1914

  • Union moves to St. James Building (SE corner of Clinton St. & Iowa Ave.) in March
  • Costs $3,000 to obtain lease and remodel hotel to house Union
  • Facilities provide dormitory-style room and board with areas to study, relax, and recreate

1916

  • Fire destroys St. James Building in April
  • Union continues to sponsor events in other campus buildings after fire until WWI interupted efforts to obtain a new building

1919

  • President Walter A. Jessup advocates for construction of Student Union on campus as memorial to servicemen who died in World War I
  • Alumni Association forms an Iowa Memorial Union Corporation to raise $1 million for construction

1920s


Photo gallery

1920

  • Locations considered for IMU: West bank of Iowa River adjacent to Quadrangle; Center of North Capitol Street; Plot at northwest corner of Jefferson & Madison Streets

1924

  • Construction begins on first unit of IMU

1925

  • Unit I completed: Includes 130'x90' Main Lounge, offices, and snack bar
  • Unit II construction begins: Includes lobby, conference rooms, meeting rooms, space to be leased to Triangle Club, and YMC
  • IMU is one of 16 college union buildings in the US
  • Assumes role of service center, offering Union Dining Service, housing and employment service, general hospitality, meeting facilities, and Union Browsing Library

1926

  • Unit I dedicated on Feb. 6
  • IMU first used as headquarters for freshman Registration Week in Sept.

1927

  • Unit II completed and dedicated in March
  • Union activities include smokers from various colleges, games, tournaments, tea dances, U Band concerts, U Sings, student presidential convention, and homecoming
  • Two units of IMU now in use; Facilities included Main Lounge, a library, WSUI studio, soda fountain and 500' roof deck for summer use

1930s


1930

  • Women first admitted as members of the Student Union Board

1936

  • Silver Shadow, a nonalcoholic nightclub, opens in Union Cafeteria
  • Class of 1935 establishes fund to make Mark Twain room; Pilot wheel arrives for room in 1937, and is put in River Room foyer until 1967

1938

  • IMU transitions to more of a cultural center than student/campus activities center

1940s


1942-43

  • IMU is used by Army Specialized Training Program for feeding and recreation for cadets and trainees during WWII
  • To serve military trainees, Union cafeteria, catering service and Triangle Club dining room all closed to the public until 1944
  • Women begin to be employed by IMU as information desk clerks, waiters
  • Board of Trustees of IMU Corporation gives IMU to University of Iowa
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1950s


1950

  • Discussion of construction new facilities begin

1952

  • Danforth Chapel construction completed (dedicated Jan. 1953)

1955

  • Unit III construction completed and open: Adds recreation area, snack bar, office space, student lounge, music, and library rooms

1960s


1962

  • $4.2 million construction project for Units IV, V, VI begins

1964

  • Soapbox Soundoff begins as forum for students to speak their minds about topics such as the Barry Goldwater presidential candidacy, Vietnam War and cost of food in Union Cafeteria
  • Thieves Market first organized to bring together student-produced artwork

1965

  • Virtually new IMU opens with Units IV, V, VI completed in July
  • Unit IV Additions: New main kitchen, River Room cafeteria, State Room, private dining room
  • Unit V Additions: 112-room "Iowa House" Guest House
  • Unit VI Additions: 21 conference/meeting rooms, Second Floor Ballroom, small theater
  • New meeting rooms on Second Floor named in honor of famous Iowans; Rooms on Third Floor named for Big Ten/Ivy League Universities

1967

  • Wheel Room opens as tribute to many types wheeled transportation that have been important in Iowa
  • IMU used as site for student demonstrations, housing Students for a Democratic Society and becoming the site of several arrests

1980s


1988

  • $10.5 million renovation links the additions of 1920 and 1965 on the second and third floors; Project creates Terrace Lobby entrance, improves food service areas, establishes Student Activities Center, and creates University Book Store
  • IMU celebrates 65th Anniversary in October

1989

  • November issue of "American School and University" cites the 1988 IMU renovation as one of six outstanding college union projects
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2000s


2005

  • IMU begins construction on Phase I of $24 million renovation project

2008

  • June 13th, the IMU closed due to flooding of the Iowa River
  • November 1st, the first through third floors of the IMU reopened to the public. The ground floor remains closed.

2013