O'Hara Hall (1870-2010)
Built around 1870, the building that became O'Hara Hall served the university for nearly 90 years. Once the personal home of General Frederick Charles Winkler, Marquette University purchased the building in 1920 where it underwent multiple name changes. For a large part of its history, O'Hara hall served as the center for the university's administration. Because of this capacity, the building was also subject to numerous student protests throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. Ultimately the upkeep for the building proved too costly and it was razed in 2010, and the land where it stood was converted into a parking lot.
Backstory and Context
At the time it was finally demolished, the building then known as O’Hara Hall was by far the oldest building on Marquette University’s campus. In fact the building itself was even older than Marquette University. Although its exact age is unknown, the general consensus is that the building was constructed having been built sometime around 1870. The building was once the private residence of General Frederick Charles Winkler. Winkler served as a Captain in the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Union Army during the Civil War and was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg. In 1866 he was nominated for promotion to the rank of brevet Brigadier General of volunteers by President Andrew Johnson, which the Senate would later approve. After the war, Winkler moved into the building that would become O’Hara Hall. As a war hero and a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Winkler often hosted numerous important guests at his home, including President Theodore Roosevelt, who once spent the night there. In 1920 Winkler sold the building to Marquette University.
During its 90 years in service to the university O’Hara Hall underwent two changes in name. The building was first named Lalumiere Hall in 1923 after Father Stanislaus Lalumiere, a Jesuit Superior and academic who served as Marquette College’s President from 1887 to 1889. During this time, Lalumiere held classrooms for math, foreign languages, and theology courses. In 1938 the University renovated both the interior and exterior of Lalumiere Hall. Upon completion of the renovation the offices of President Raphael McCarthy and the university administration moved into Lalumiere. Thus the building was briefly and aptly named Administration Hall. However, just a year later it was renamed O’Hara Hall, after Charles O’Hara, a member of the Board of Governors who had provided some of the funding for the building’s renovations. O’Hara hall would remain home to the university’s administration until its demolition in 2010.
By the 2000s it became increasingly apparent that O’Hara Hall was very outdated. Between the lack of handicap accessibility and the inferior utilities (plumbing, heating, etc) the cost of renovating the building became far higher than the cost of simply demolishing it and replacing it. Following the announcement and subsequent construction of Zilber Hall, O’Hara Hall was abandoned and ultimately demolished in 2010. Today the location of Zilber Hall is a parking lot that sits nestled between Sensenbrenner Hall and Eckstein Hall.
As O’Hara Hall was home to the university’s administration it was frequently the site of numerous protests. Throughout the 1960s Marquette University students held numerous protests primarily over issues of Civil Rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. Specific incidents such as the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kent State shootings sparked demonstrations throughout Marquette’s campus, with O’Hara Hall as a focal point. These protests ranged from student gatherings outside of O’Hara Hall, to sit-ins inside the building.
While the bulk of student protests at O’Hara Hall occurred during the 1960s, they certainly were not limited to that decade. During the 1980s the issue of South African Apartheid was a major concern for many throughout the United States. While Marquette University officially denounced the institution and practice, the University still held stocks in many South African businesses who adhered to Apartheid. Thus students began to demand that the university divest from such businesses and even led a protest outside of O’Hara Hall in 1985. Throughout the rest of its life O’Hara Hall remained the target for many student protests, albeit ones that were on a much smaller scale than those of the 1960s.
Marquette University Special Collections and University Archives