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Alice G. Chapman Hall Collection

Identifier: LU-RG08-004
This collection is comprised of materials documenting the history of Alice G. Chapman Hall, originally Jason Downer Commons, the location of food services for Lawrence University built in 1968. Correspondence, newspaper clippings, programs, contracts, and photographs are included in the collection. Materials on the Alice G. Chapman Teakwood Room are also included, as well as records documenting the 2011-2013 renovations to the building.


  • 1935-2013


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights and copyright reside with Lawrence University. For uses beyond those allowed for fair use under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.), please contact the University Archivist.


1.00 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Biographical or Historical Information

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 d├ęcor, 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.

Arrangement Note

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.

Method of Acquisition

Materials on Jason Downer Commons were collected and placed in the Archives vertical file prior to 2005. Records of the 2011-2013 renovation transferred by Lynn Hagee with accession 2018-12.

Processing Information

Preliminary processing was completed prior to 2005. Further processing and finding aid by Julia Stringfellow, 2009.


Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018: Collection retitled to reflect the building name change

Repository Details

Part of the Lawrence University Archives Repository

Seeley G. Mudd Library
113 South Lawe Street
Appleton WI 54911 US
(920) 832-6753