It was known to most as Mumford House.
But William Wallace will always remember the “charming and unique” former home of the art history department as “surely the funkiest building on campus: a small, clapboard house from the 19th century that had been adapted to accommodate a rabbit warren of faculty offices, a small lounge area and seminar room, and an unfinished basement that occasionally hosted legal and illegal Friday night parties.
“It was home away from home where faculty gathered at the central living room coffee pot and graduate students found refuge around the secretary’s desk. No ‘administrative assistants’ then,” says Wallace, a professor of art history at Washington University in St. Louis who earned his master’s from the UI and went on to become an internationally recognized authority on Michelangelo and his contemporaries.
“As engineering and biology students entered sterile brick buildings, we felt privileged to have a house among the trees perched at the edge of the open fields; it was almost like studying art history by entering into a Grant Wood painting.”