Carpenter Tower, Marquette University
Carpenter Tower today (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org)
Catholic Knights Building, circa 1955 (“Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University Libraries, MUA_008677)
M. Carpenter Tower, view from Wisconsin Avenue, 1972 (“Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University Libraries, MUA_001101)
View of Carpenter Tower (Then known as the Tower Hotel) from Johnston Hall, 1940 (“Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University Libraries, MUA_007281)
Backstory and Context
The art deco building known today as Carpenter Tower was originally built in 1922 as the Catholic Knights Tower. In 1956 Marquette University began to lease three floors of the hotel in order to provide housing for women students. In 1960, the university purchased the entire sixteen-floor tower for roughly $1 million. Following renovation, it was renamed M. Carpenter Tower and became home to hundreds of female students. Carpenter Tower made history in 1972 when it became the first coed dorm at Marquette University.
The namesake of Carpenter Tower is unique in that it is not named after one person, but rather three members of the same family. The building’s first namesake, Michael Carpenter was a prominent Wisconsin businessman in the nineteenth century. Carpenter founded the Carpenter Baking Company in 1880 and later became a benefactor to Marquette University. However, it was Michael’s two children, Matthew and Mary, who largely contributed to the university. The two siblings made an annual financial gift to the university in honor of their father. Matthew himself served as a member of Marquette University’s Board of Governors from 1938 to 1950. For a time two buildings were named after Matthew on Marquette’s campus. In addition to the dorm, the original student union was renamed after Matthew in 1953.
Marquette University Special Collections and University Archives
Marquette Wire. "Building A Legacy." https://marquettewire.org/6689/uncategorized/building-a-legacy/