Clio Logo

Completed in 1897, this Richardsonian Romanesque campus building served as the main library for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) until 1927. After serving as the home of the law school for several decades, the building became the home of the mathematics department in 1955 and continues to serve that function today. The building is best known for its bell tower, which was added in 1920.


  • Altgeld Hall's bell tower provides weekly concerts by a live chimemaster. The playing of these bells are one of the most beloved traditions of the University

The building is named for Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld, born in a German village in 1847. He came to the United States with his parents as a baby and grew up on an Ohio farm. While a teenager during the Civil War, he joined an Ohio infantry regiment, before returning to school and becoming a teacher. He then studied law and eventually moved to Chicago to further his career.

Upon his election as Illinois governor in 1892, Altgeld became involved in the growth of the University of Illinois. As Ferald Bryan writes, "The governor also asserted his own architectural imprint on educational and other state buildings by insisting on the Tudor Gothic style that resembled medieval castles along the Rhine River." His aesthetic preferences influenced the designs of Altgeld Hall at UIUC (though the final design ended up more in the Richardsonian Romanesque style than Gothic), as well as several others in the state:
- Altgeld Hall at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
- John W. Cook Hall at Illinois State University
- Altgeld Hall at Northern Illinois University
- Old Main at 
Eastern Illinois University

"Altgeld Hall." University Library, UIUC. Accessed November 17, 2017. https://www.library.illinois.edu/mtx/about/altgeld-hall/.

Bryan, Ferald. "John Peter Altgeld‘s influence still visible." NIU Today (Northern Illinois University). May 13, 2014. Accessed November 20, 2017. https://www.niutoday.info/2014/05/13/john-peter-altgelds-influence-still-visible/. 

"History of Altgeld Hall." Dept. of Mathematics, UIUC. Accessed November 17, 2017. https://math.illinois.edu/resources/history-altgeld-hall. 

Scheinman, Muriel. "Altgeld Hall, the Original Library Building at the University of Illinois: Its History, Architecture, and Art." MA Thesis, University of Illinois. 1969. Accessed November 20, 2017. https://math.illinois.edu/system/files/inline-files/scheinman_thesis_0.pdf.