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Know your campus: North Hall has served many roles

BY REGINA ZILBERMINTS | APRIL 06, 2009 7:40 AM

Tucked behind Burge and Currier Residence Halls and overlooking the Iowa River, North Hall — an unpretentious brick building — has served numerous purposes for Iowa City since its construction in 1925.

North Hall has been home to the UI School of Social Work since 1972. Until 1972, the building contained University High School, an observational school for the UI College of Education staffed largely by UI graduate students.

It also houses Wild Bill’s Coffeeshop, a café staffed by adults with major disabilities. The café is named in honor of Bill Sackter, who spent nearly 50 years in a Minnesota mental institution before being discharged in the 1960s.

Sackter moved to Iowa City, and with the help of Barry Morrow and Tom Walz, began working in a small coffee shop Walz opened in North Hall. Sackter soon became “one of Iowa City’s best-loved citizens.”

The coffee shop became famous when Sackter was featured in two television movies: Bill and Bill on his Own. Bill starred actor Mickey Rooney and won Emmy awards for its writer. Since Sackter’s death in 1983, the coffee shop has expanded, and it currently employs 10 people. It also creates practicum opportunities for students working with people with disabilities.

The building also contains the Space/Place, which hosts numerous dance and music performances.
North Hall was designed by Proudfoot, Bird, and Rawson, the same group that designed numerous buildings on campus, including Currier, the Chemistry Building, and the President’s Residence.


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