Pillsbury Hall Renovation

Image of Pillsbury Hall
The architect behind Pillsbury Hall's red clay roof and patterned sandstone was LeRoy S. Buffington—who also designed Minneapolis' Pillsbury "A" Mill

In the news


On May 30, 2018, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the legislature's 2018 capital investment bill into law. This new law includes $24 million for the renovation of Pillsbury Hall, as a permanent home for the Department of English. (The remaining portion of the renovation will need to be funded by private donations.) We are thrilled and thankful that the renovation of this empty building can now begin!

The Department of English wishes to thank Governor Dayton, the Minnesota Legislature, and all our alum and English Advisory Board advocates. We would like to extend a special thanks to Emerita Professors of English Shirley Garner and Madelon Sprengnether, who first envisioned English in Pillsbury Hall and have led this two-decade effort with, as CLA Dean Coleman notes, "passion, energy, and determination."

We are also pleased that the Pillsbury Hall Renovation is part of the University of Minnesota’s current Capital Campaign, which launched its public phase last fall. This distinction is a mark of the importance of the project to the University—and an acknowledgement of how much Pillsbury Hall’s renovation will benefit students, University programs, and the citizens of Minnesota.

In Pillsbury Hall, English will join other humanities departments in neighboring Folwell, Nicholson, Nolte, and Jones Halls, creating a hub for collaborations on research, teaching, and public engagement. (And the department's current space—our "temporary" housing for almost 50 years—will be eagerly taken up by Lind Hall’s main tenant, the College of Science & Engineering, to meet the high demand for computer science professionals.)

The 6,000-plus students who take English classes annually will experience 21st-century classrooms in an iconic 1889 building—the second-oldest on campus, named in honor of John S. Pillsbury, the "father of the University." (The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the renovation will comply with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Preservation.) Want to learn more about Pillsbury Hall? Here are 10 fun facts. And, here, a condensed list of reasons to support this renovation.

The renovated Pillsbury Hall will feature production spaces equipped with technologies that enable journal editing, video making, digital storytelling, website building, and web-based research. Rooms for events will be used for the many now hosted annually by English and other humanities departments, from public readings by important authors such as Zadie Smith, Eula Biss, Nuruddin Farah, and Karl Ove Knausgaard (all past visitors), to the annual English Undergraduate Conference.

Housed in a state-of-the-art facility, English will attract the most talented young faculty and the most promising graduate students. We will be able to provide not only our usual rigorous intellectual education but also an expansion of the service-learning, laboratory, and internship opportunities that channel undergraduate students into post-graduation employment and civic life.

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