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Jason Downer Commons Collection

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Jason Downer Commons Collection, 1935-2013 | Lawrence University Archives

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Collection Overview

Title: Jason Downer Commons Collection, 1935-2013View associated digital content.

ID: LU-RG08/004

Primary Creator: Lawrence University

Extent: 0.4 Linear Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged alphabetically by subject and type of material, then chronologically at the file level. Folder titles for contract materials are the original titles that were on the folder.

Subjects: Alice G. Chapman Teakwood Room (Appleton, Wis.)

Forms of Material: newspaper clippings, photographic prints

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection is comprised of materials documenting the history of Jason Downer Commons, the location of food services for Lawrence University, that was built in 1968. Correspondence, newspaper clippings, programs, contracts, and photographs are included in the collection. Materials on the Alice G. Chapman Teakwood Room, located inside Jason Downer Commons, include correspondence on the transfer of the Teakwood Room to Lawrence from Milwaukee-Downer College, photographs, and newspaper and magazine articles.

Collection Historical Note

Jason Downer Commons, built in 1968, served as Lawrence's main dining center until 2009. Prior to Downer, students had meals in their dormitories. Downer Commons was made possible with the merging of Milwaukee-Downer College with Lawrence in 1964. Downer Commons was named in honor of Judge Jason Downer, who served as an associate justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court from 1864-1867. He served as the president of the board of trustees for Wisconsin Female College in Fox Lake, a predecessor to Milwaukee-Downer College, from 1866-1871 and again from 1874-1878. When Downer died, he left a gift of $65,000 to the college, and the college changed its name to Downer College.

Construction on Downer Commons began in 1967 and a dedication ceremony for the completed building was held on October 26, 1968. Walter Peterson, history professor and Alice G. Chapman librarian, gave the dedicatory address. When it opened, Downer was able to provide food service for approximately 600 people, and it contained six dining rooms. Each of the dining rooms in Downer had its own distinctive décor, offering the students a choice of environment for their dining. There were three cafeteria lines, with the third line offering lighter fare. The basement was the working center for food service.

The Alice G. Chapman Teakwood Room is located on the second floor of Downer Commons next to the Barber room. The room was built for Alice Chapman by American artist and architect Lockwood de Forest. The room in Chapman's home in Milwaukee was used as a music room, and artists, musicians, writers, and teachers from Milwaukee-Downer College were frequent visitors. After Chapman's death, the Teakwood Room was placed in Chapman Library at the Milwaukee-Downer campus in 1938. The room was used for receptions, poetry readings, chamber music, and coffee hours.

Upon the news of the merger with Lawrence, the Milwaukee-Downer community pleaded that their beloved room be moved in its entirety to preserve it. The trustees agreed to this request, and the room was carefully disassembled and stored in a warehouse until Downer Commons was built. It was reassembled in Downer during the summer of 1968. During its time at Downer, the room has hosted many Lawrence and Appleton community events.

With the opening of Warch Campus Center in September 2009, food services moved from Downer Commons to the new campus center. The former Downer Commons was renovated and reopened in June 2013 as Hurvis Center, housing Admissions, Career Services, Alumni and Constituency Engagement, and facilities for the Film Studies program. In 2016, the name of the building was changed to Alice G. Chapman Hall.

Subject/Index Terms

Alice G. Chapman Teakwood Room (Appleton, Wis.)

Administrative Information

Repository: Lawrence University Archives

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 box

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Property rights and copyright reside with Lawrence University.  For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the University Archivist.

Acquisition Method: Materials on Jason Downer Commons were collected and placed in the Archives vertical file prior to 2005. The donor and source of the materials, as well as who collected them and arranged them in the vertical file is unknown.

Preferred Citation: Jason Downer Commons Collection. LU-RG08-004. Lawrence University Archives, Seeley G. Mudd Library, Appleton, Wisconsin.

Processing Information: Preliminary processing was done prior to 2005, date and processor unknown. Further processing and completion of finding aid was done by Julia Stringfellow, 2009.


Box and Folder Listing


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Box 1
Folder 1: Blueprints and correspondence regarding construction, 1967-1968
Folder 2: Contracts, A, Boldt, 1967-1968
Folder 3: Contracts, B, Wenzel Brothers, 1967-1968
Folder 4: Contracts, C, Winter and Sons, 1967-1968
Folder 5: Contracts, D, Boehn Electric, 1967-1968
Folder 6: Contracts, E, Northwestern Elevator, 1967-1968
Folder 7: Contracts, F, Wenzel Brothers, 1967-1968
Folder 8: Contracts, G, Langstadt's Incorporated, 1967-1968
Folder 9: Contracts, H, S.J. Casper Company, 1967-1968
Folder 10: Correspondence, 1968-1969
Folder 11: Dedication, invitations and list of attendees, 1968
Folder 12: Dedication, programs and speeches, 1968View associated digital content.
Folder 13: Newspaper articles, 1966-2012
Folder 14: Photographs, dedication ceremony, 1968View associated digital content.
Folder 15: Photographs, exterior, 1968-1982
Folder 16: Photographs, exterior, construction, 1968
Folder 17: Photographs, interior, 1974-1988
Folder 18: Photographs, interior, Teakwood Room, 1968-1989View associated digital content.
Folder 19: "Survival Guide to Downer", 1976-1977
Folder 20: Teakwood Room, appraisal information, 2013
Folder 21: Teakwood Room, articles and brochures, 1968-1988
Folder 22: Teakwood Room, contracts, 1935-1968
Folder 23: Teakwood Room, correspondence regarding installation of room at Lawrence, 1963-1971

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