Original House

The University of Iowa President’s Residence stands on a bluff overlooking the Iowa River. This neo-Georgian home was completed in 1909 for a total cost of $25,067. Proudfoot and Bird were the architects, and B.A. Wickham was the contractor.

The original home contained 16 rooms and four bathrooms. The house now offers over 12,000 square feet of living area.

There are five main rooms on the first floor—living room, dining room, kitchen, library, sun room—and two half baths. A spacious porch on the west side provides an excellent retreat for entertaining nearly year round.

The President’s private quarters on the second floor include a living room, study, four bedrooms and four baths. On the third floor there is a large room which over the years has served as a lecture hall, ballroom, storage area and office. There is also a bedroom and bath on this floor.

Presidents who have lived in the house

The dining room of the Church Street house is lined with photos of the presidents who have lived there:

  • George MacLean, 1899-11 (moved there in 1909)
  • John G. Bowman, 1911-14
  • Thomas H. Macbride, 1914-1916
  • Walter A. Jessup, 1916-1934
  • Eugene A, Gilmore, 1934-1940
  • Virgil M. Hancher, 1940-1964
  • Howard R. Bowen, 1964-1969
  • Willard L. Boyd, Jr., 1969-1981 (moved there in 1976)
  • James O. Freedman, 1982-1987
  • Hunter R. Rawlings III, 1988-1995
  • Mary Sue Coleman, 1995-2002
  • David J. Skorton, 2003-2006 (moved to the house in 2004 when renovation was completed)
  • Sally Mason, 2007-2015

Additional information

  • Over 100 University functions are held in the house each year.
  • Famous guests include Meredith Willson of Music Man fame; George Gallup, creator of the Gallup Poll; and Prince Bertil of Sweden.
  • In 1909, when President MacLean moved in, the living room served as the President’s Office.
  • Until the 1960s, orientation teas for incoming freshmen were hosted at the residence.
  • During the early years of Willard Boyd’s presidency 102 Church Street was used primarily for University social functions. The second floor housed the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning. President Boyd and his family continued to reside in a house off-campus until 1976 when the Regents passed a resolution which required presidents to live in the President’s House.

Remodeling over the years

  • While the President’s Residence has retained its overall original design, several renovation projects have occurred since the original construction in 1908.  In 1917, a garage was added to the home, costing $835.32.  Eight years later a sun room was added at a cost of $5,500.
  • The house was redecorated in 1960 during the Hancher administration. A butler’s pantry off the formal dining room was made into a breakfast nook; a cloakroom at the front entrance was converted into a small bathroom. Air conditioning was added as well.
  • In 1983, during the Freedman administration, the heating and plumbing infrastructure was totally updated; interior plaster and exterior brick and wood were repaired. The kitchen was enlarged and a second floor family room with a kitchenette was added.
  • In 1997, a ramp was added to the front of the house to allow all guests to enter through the front door. To keep the symmetry of the facade, an identical wall was constructed on the opposite side of the house.
  • In the most recent renovation, completed in 2004, the kitchen was remodeled to facilitate catering large events. In addition, the heating and cooling systems were made energy efficient, and a two-car garage replaced the single car garage.