Koren Hall



Koren Hall was dedicated on October 14, 1921 thanks to the physical labor of students and the fund raising activity of the Preus family. Originally the building was meant to house the Luther College library and museum collections although today it is the home of faculty offices and classrooms. The library was first proposed by students in 1909 and was followed closely by the acceptance of the Board of Regents, making the new library the next construction project for Luther College. Situated just south of Campus House and north of Olson Hall, Koren Hall faces the flagpole and Main.


The students of Luther College so desired a library building that in 1909 they approached the Board of Regents with an offer to contribute through the making of concrete blocks. The entire student body was subsequently divided into squads, each with a leader, to mix and mold sand, mortar, and cement into the concrete blocks which make up the facade of Koren Hall. It is estimated that the students completed over 27,000 blocks. The Board of Trustees, on June 16, 1910, decided to place the new library on the open lawn across from the Campus House.


After the hard work of the students, the project languished due to problems with the church union in 1917. However, in 1919 the Board of Trustees came back to the library project with the help of Hans G. Stub (class of 1866) and Luther College President C. K. Preus. They were so successful that by Feb. 3, 1921 bids for the building of Koren Hall were in excess of $125,000. After the death of President Preus on May 28, 1921 his two sons, Ove J.H. and Johan C.K., completed the fund raising.


The cornerstone was laid for the building on April, 18, 1921 and was dedicated not long after in October of the same year. It was named after Ulrik Vilhelm and Elisabeth Koren, two pioneers who supported and promoted Luther College from its very beginning. Jacob A.O. Preus, then governor of Minnesota, spoke of Koren and his work. Following was Psalm 86:11 read by Olaf E. Brandt and a speech on the future developments of the library by James C.M. Hanson (class of 1882), the associate director of the University of Chicago libraries.


Originally the library housed 36,000 bound volumes and pamphlets for student and faculty use, with room for 100,000. Two rooms on the ground floor were set aside for museum purposes but were soon taken over by the library stacks. The Reading Room could accommodate 95 studying students. By 1961, the library had 115,000 volumes as well as 1,000 volumes of Norwegian-American newspapers. A microfilming project of the Norwegian-American newspapers began in 1947 to make them more accessible to students and faculty. Added to the library stacks was a collection of more than 20,000 manuscripts as well as a sizable number of Gausta paintings.

Post-Library Developments

Today the library has been replaced by the Preus Library building finished in 1969. Koren Hall was renovated in 1987-88 and is now used for faculty offices and classrooms. Multiple departments make use of the facility including Education, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Anthropology/Archeology. The third floor has become the modern workroom of the Anthropology lab. The facade of the building still reflects the original stones and window placements. Koren Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.