Campus History: Rohlman Hall

When Bishop Loras T. Lane became president of the College in 1951, he immediately focused on student recruitment. Through various means, he began to push for a larger student body with quick success. There was one problem, however: all rooms on campus were full.

To remedy this problem, the Board of Regents authorized the president to secure a loan for a maximum of $400,000 to begin construction on a new residence hall. This authorization coincided with Archbishop Henry Rohlman’s announcement that the diocese intended to train more young men for the priesthood, which aligned with the College’s goals.

In January 1953, construction began in the area north of the Rock Bowl Stadium in Keane Oaks, and the cornerstone was laid on March 19. Just six months later, the building was completed and ready for use at the start of the new academic year.

On October 28, 1954, the building was dedicated as North Hall. It boasted 120 rooms and housed 160 students, primarily from Pius X Seminary, and several faculty.

Two years after he stepped down archbishop due to health in 1955, Bishop Rohlman donated a bas relief of Pope Pius X placed at the bottom of the west façade. It was carved from Biancoduro marble in Seravezza, Italy and carved in the marble studios at Pietrasanta, Italy. Its height measured 10′ 11 3/4″. The translated inscription reads, “Restore all things in Christ.” Also included were symbols of communion and the saint’s coat-of-arms.

Following Archbishop Rohlman’s death on September 13, 1957, Loras College renamed its newest residence hall, Rohlman Hall, after him. They had attempted to do so previously, but the archbishop had graciously demurred each time.

In the early 1970s, after Vatican II, the number of seminarians declined. With the need for the rooms in Rohlman diminished, the College leased the building to the Sister of Mercy, who used it as a continuing education center/retirement center from 1973-1983.

The chapel in Rohlman Hall

When the lease with the Sisters of Mercy expired, Loras College enrollment had been steadily increasing, and the need for the building for a residence hall had returned. The decision was made to make the hall a women-only building at the start of term in September 1984. In addition to the residential rooms, it featured a chapel on the second floor, three classrooms and a recreation room.

Rohlman hall is a four-story, colonial revival building on the northwestern portion of campus, facing south and overlooking the rock-bowl stadium. The building’s main focus is on its central bay, which contains three round-arched entrances under a central pediment with return eaves (also present on the sides). The building is has a very shallow U shape and predominantly side-gabled, though there is a front-facing gable over the central bay. The gabled roof is clad in asphalt shingles. The eaves are undecorated and have a moderate overhang.

Content for this article was pulled from extensive research conducted by Hannah Bernhard (’18).

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2020, Loras was ranked the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 12th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).