J.F. Alexander and Son
June 21, 1910
Added east wing to building expanding library capacity and office space in 1957.
"Handsomest building in the state devoted to library purposes," -1910
Normal Hall, one of the most beautiful and architecturally significant buildings on Indiana State University's campus, was dedicated as the library for the Indiana State Normal School in 1910.
The neo-classical building, constructed of Indiana limestone, was celebrated for its "excellent lines, harmonies, and proportions." The front of the building was highlighted by four fluted ionic pilasters and a stone stairway of 17 steps leading to the main entrance. All of the windows on the sides of the building had molded stone frames. A large projecting cornice topped the structure.
The building's interior was equally as impressive, especially its rotunda and colorful dome of opalescent art glass. Access to the rotunda was gained through a vestibule, featuring a Roman mosaic floor and marble wainscoting. A wide entrance hall led to a large wooden circulation desk. Stairways of marble and bronze rose in the south corners. A series of marbleized columns supported the dome. Handsome wooden appointments abounded, and the glass floors in the stacks at the rear of the room added another unique touch.
The dome featured a reproduction in oil of Raphael's drawing of Philosophy. Below this was a series of 24 stained glass panels that featured wreathed medallions pierced by flaming torches. In the center of each wreath was an open book or scale of justice. The names of noted philosophers and educators appeared beneath the torches.
On the lower part of the dome were inscriptions that emphasized the importance of education. These included an extract from the Ordinance of 1787- "Education shall be forever encouraged"- and similar quotes from the Indiana Constitution of 1816, the Constitution of 1851, and the 1865 legislative act that created the Indiana State Normal School.
For several decades, Normal Hall was the academic center of the campus. In the mid-1950s, several alterations were made to the building in the interest of utility and necessity. First, the front stairway and entrance were moved and replaced by a ground-floor entryway. Next, came a large addition to provide book storage. Finally, because of maintenance problems, the dome was dismantled and the ceiling plastered.
Since the opening of Cunningham Memorial Library in 1973, Normal Hall has served a variety of purposes. It currently serves as storage and office spaces for the University Archives and other administrative offices.