Maxwell Hall History

At the Heart of Campus Life

Constructed in 1890 and dedicated as Library Hall in January 1891, Maxwell Hall was designed by Indianapolis architect George Bunting in the Romanesque Revival style popular at the end of the 19th Century, featuring rounded arches, contrasting stone textures, an asymmetrical exterior, and numerous decorative flourishes throughout.

It was renamed in 1894 in honor of Dr. David H. Maxwell, long-time president of IU's Board of Trustees in the middle of the 19th Century. Maxwell also served several terms in the Indiana State Legislature and as mayor of Bloomington.

As the first dedicated library building on the Bloomington campus, Maxwell Hall was at the heart of campus life, a gathering place for students, the epicenter of faculty scholarship, and an iconic space that defined Indiana University at the turn of the century. Maxwell later became home to IU's Law School and its library.

One of the earliest photographs of Library Hall, shortly after completion, 1890. Indiana University Archives.
The Hearth in the Maxwell Hall reading room, 1897. Indiana University Archives.
The library reading room in Maxwell Hall, circa 1903. Indiana University Archives.
The library catalog room in Maxwell, circa 1904. Indiana University Archives.
The IU law library, 1940. Indiana University Archives.

A Center of Administrative Activity

In the mid-20th Century, Maxwell Hall was utilized as office space for several key parts of the IU administration, including the Office of the President, the Registrar, and the Bursar. Virtually every student enrolled during this time went through Maxwell Hall at some point during a semester, and the building became one of the busiest hubs on campus. Later, Maxwell Hall would be home to important IU units such as University Division, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Groups Scholars Program, and the Center for Rural Engagement. 

Office of the President, 1936. Indiana University Archives.
Registrar's Office, 1936. Indiana University Archives.