Keane Hall: A Loras Icon

On June 8, 1914, the recently constructed and largest structure on campus, Loras Hall, was dedicated. The speaker was Most Rev. John Ireland, Archbishop of St. Paul, Minnesota. The architect was French-born Emanuel Louis Masqueray, who coincidentally had designed Ireland Hall, a dorm on the campus of College of St. Thomas in Minnesota a year earlier. Masqueray also designed the Cathedral of St. Paul and was the chief of design for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

Rhe general contractor for Loras Hall was well- known Dubuque artisan Anton Zwack. Built in a modern Romanesque style, with some elements of Craftsman style, the imposing five story structure was placed on one of the highest bluffs in the city, where it commands breathtaking views of the river and the states of Wisconsin and Illinois.

The composition was vitrified brick (impervious to water and resistant to corrosion), Bedford stone trimmings, and a tile roof. The entrance and vestibule were trimmed in marble, with the floors of the halls and stairways constructed of terrazzo and a chipped marble and cement application. The woodwork in the rooms was oak with hard maple floors. The basement contained a chapel, recreation room, gymnasium, showers, and small bowling alley. The main floor consisted of reception areas, classrooms, and offices. The three upper floors contained 156 private rooms for students and suites with a study and bedroom for college faculty. The library occupied the south wing on the third and fourth floors with an open balcony between the floors. The north wing contained five music rooms and classrooms. The top floor, or “pent house”, offered rooms for students and professors. Electrical lighting and steam heat throughout the building were considered modern conveniences for the time. Unfortunately, only one small passenger elevator was constructed, although a freight elevator was originally planned but later scrapped. Total cost for the building was $171,687.

President Jim Collins (’84) cut the ribbon during the dedication of
the new Keane entryway on May 2, 2019.

In 1939, Loras Hall was renamed Keane Hall in honor of the two former Archbishops of Dubuque and chancellors of the college: Most Rev. John Joseph Keane, and Most Rev. James John Keane—neither of them were related. The building has undergone several major remodeling projects over the years including the complete restoration and remodeling of the rear porch in 2007, and more recently the $1 million third floor renovation with all new faculty offices and classrooms which will house the newly created Business Analytics program.

After being a men’s dormitory for over 90 years, it ceased housing students in May 2005. After significant renovations, it is now home to the Francis J. Noonan School of Business, as well as administrative offices. The most recent updates included a new entryway, elevator and updates to the first floor.

Keane continues to receive significant attention, with additional plans in place to modify the fourth and fifth floors.

Now over 100 years old, Keane Hall is perhaps the most prominent and certainly the most memorable icon on the Loras College campus. If only its walls could talk!