Northrop area nominated as historical site

The Mall will join other University property like the Knoll area and Eastcliff, the presidential residence, on the register.

by Luke Feuerherm

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted last Wednesday to nominate the Northrop Mall District to be the next University property on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mall will join other University property like the Knoll area and Eastcliff, the presidential residence, on the register. The vote comes as Northrop Auditorium, the Mall’s centerpiece, is entering the early stages of renovation.
“The upcoming restoration of Northrop itself really brought this to the forefront,” University senior architect James Litsheim said. “It’s kind of been brewing for 10 years, but we never really acted on it.”
He said an announcement before renovation begins could help in fundraising, but it is not priority for the application process.
The approved border of the District will stretch south from Northrop Auditorium past Coffman Union, as far east as Akerman Hall and as far west as Fraser Hall.
All but two buildings in the proposed boundary, Ford Hall and Kolthoff Hall, were designed by Clarence Johnston, who is nationally recognized as a master architect, Litsheim said.
Being listed on the register makes a building or place eligible for certain grants and offers tax credits, said Turkiya Lowe, historian for Minnesota’s
national register review.
A status change will not make a difference for upkeep though, because the University is federally required to treat places eligible for the register the same as those listed.
There are currently about 200 buildings in the University system that are either eligible or listed, though the majority of them are merely eligible.
The primary difference between being eligible and applying is “basically doing the homework to show why it is eligible,” Litsheim said. “Then filling out a form showing and submitting that to the National Parks Service.”
In 1997, the Mall was designated as a Regents Campus Historical District, the University-level equivalent to the National Register of Historic Places.
Architecture is one of four criteria considered by the National Register. Places only have to meet one of the following designations:
– Connection with a historic event
– Connection to a historic person
– Architectural significance
– Archeological significance
University President Bob Bruininks is currently working on a renovation plan to bring the building back up to code.
He told The Minnesota Daily that, “[Northrop is] one of the most iconic buildings in the state, and we’re perilously close to closing it because it cannot support the kind of work we do.”
The Board’s agenda described the Northrop Mall District as, “one of the most intact examples of this type of campus planning remaining in the United States.”
The Board also approved renovation on another building in the District last Wednesday. New windows and a new heating ventilation and air conditioning system will be installed at Akerman Hall.

Royalties used for research
Bruininks announced last Wednesday that $20 million in royalties would be used for research infrastructure.
The University has used money set aside from the profits of research and technology commercialization as far back as five years ago to establish the Infrastructure Investment Initiative.
The money will be used to purchase major research equipment, hire trained technical personnel and to create scholarships.
In addition to science fields, the money will also go to areas such as the arts and humanities to fund infrastructure to support scholarships.
In late August, the University will ask individual departments for funding proposals to help decide how to divvy out the $20 million.