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Ten Fun Facts About Pillsbury Hall

Get to know English's future home
October 9, 2017

The University's proposed $36 million renovation of Pillsbury Hall will provide not only a permanent home for the Department of English, but 21st-century classrooms for the 6000 students who take English classes annually. The renovation is included in the University of Minnesota's 2018 Capital Bonding Request to the Minnesota State Legislature, as well as the University's current Capital Campaign. As a recent Star Tribune article acknowledged, Pillsbury Hall is a historic icon that should be enjoyed by many more generations of University students. How can you help secure a brighter future for this 1889 beauty? Start by learning more about the building (and the initiative to renovate it for English). Then contact your state legislators and express your support!

Detail from outside of Pillsbury Hall: Faces

1. Pillsbury Hall is named after the man who paid for it: John S. Pillsbury, eighth governor of Minnesota (1875-1881).


2. Pillsbury Hall is Minnesotan made from the ground up: yellow Hinkley Sandstone and red Fond du Lac Brownstone.

3. Generations of University students saw Pillsbury Hall as a "blackened fortress"—before a 1985 cleaning uncovered curious faces, colorful flowers, and shields.

4. Generations of future University students will benefit from a renewed Pillsbury Hall interior as bright and functional as its facade.

5. Three floors, one set of bathrooms. (Thus, another need for renovation.)

6. The Greeks believed the sight of snake-headed Medusa (right) would turn a person to stone; so far, Pillsbury Hall's version appears benign.

Image of Medusa from outside of Pillsbury Hall

7. State & University shields adorn Pillsbury, with respective mottos "L'Etoile du Nord" and "OMNIBUS ARTIBUS COMMUNE VINCULUM" (a common bond for all the arts).

8. Long-time inhabitant Earth Sciences couldn't do modern science in Pillsbury Hall (built 1889); but English lit is a perfect fit. (Earth Sciences moved this fall into the reconstructed John T. Tate Hall.)

9. For almost 130 years, the Pillsbury Hall attic held dusty papers and rocks; with English, it will hold public readings, performances, and talks!

10. When English moves from Lind Hall into a renovated Pillsbury Hall, the College of Science & Engineering will be able to expand its computer science programs. #Win-win.

Learn more about Pillsbury Hall's architects and history.