Howard Hall

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Howard Hall

Originally submitted by: Josh Brink, Drake University, Nov 30, 2010

Sketch of Howard Hall from 1903 - Times Delphic 1903

Origin of the Building

A hall intended for the musically inclined in 1903 fashioned with an auditorium and many practice rooms was completed on August 15, 1903. However, after the finishing of the Fine Arts Center in 1972, Howard Hall silenced its practice rooms and turned it into a hall of offices and a few classrooms for the English Department.

Blueprint - Times Delphic 1903


Drake University did not have a music program until Dean Frederick Howard was elected to the head of the department in 1881. The Times Delphic, Drake's school newspaper, stated that "the growth has been something phenomenal" once Dean Howard started the program. The building itself was a gift from General Francis Marion-Drake. His contribution gave the university their first conservatory of music, which the building is still labeled with Drake University Conservatory of Music today. [1] On Wednesday, April 22, 1902 at 10 a.m., Governor Albert Cummins laid the cornerstone for the soon to be building of music excellence. General Francis Marion-Drake also gave a short speech at the ceremony, and Dean Howard prepared the music. [2] One journalist of [[The Times Delphic] captured the moment as "one of the most enjoyable occasions in Drake history." [3]

View looking Southeast- Photo by Josh Brink

Now and Later

When the building was originally built, the architects designed the building for the 1st floor to have practice rooms and a harmony room, the 2nd floor to have practice rooms, offices and an auditorium with seating for 300-500 people, and finally the 3rd floor had even more practice rooms and the balcony for the auditorium. [1] Once these halls rang with harmonies of all kinds, and today they serve a different purpose and have their own tune of typing and the scratching of pencils.

A Classroom in Howard Hall - Photo by Josh Brink


Howard Hall is located on the far east side of campus. It is also south of the Fine Arts Center and east of Old Main.

Brass Numbers on the sidewalk- Photo by Josh Brink

Interesting Facts

Howard Hall is very unique because of the sidewalk that leads from University Avenue to the front entrance. The brass numbers of 21-42 embedded in the cement sidewalk were donated by the classes of 1921-1942, the numbers commemorate the class' donation. [4] Also on the stairs leading up to the entrance there are plaques indicating the years that the various schools were founded. The plaques read; Music Department 1881, School of Music 1900, and College of Fine Arts 1909. October 13, 1906, an explosion seriously hurt two and another had minor injuries. Someone had left the gas valve open and when D.D. Baird lit a match to read papers, the gas ignited and it blew him through the vault door. His head, arms and hands were seriously burnt. Also, Miss Edna Berryhill was practicing and her face was seriously burnt. Miss Grace Harboid was also practicing but came out with minor burns. [5]


  • [1] The musical building. (1903, March 27).The Times Delphic, p. 348.
  • [2] Gov. Cummins lays cornerstone. (1903, April 17). The Times Delphic, p. 398.
  • [3] The laying of the cornerstone. (1903, April 24). The Times Delphic, p. 407.
  • [4] Brass numbers mystery. (1973, December 7). The Times Delphic, p. 2.
  • [5] Explosion in Howard hall. (1906, October 13). The Times Delphic, p. 1.