Know Your Campus: President’s Residence serves as home, event center


The UI President’s Residence, home to current president Sally Mason and husband Ken, is as symbolic to the UI community as the White House is to the nation.

For many, the residence is one of the most striking and memorable buildings on the university campus. Sitting at 102 E. Church St., it was first built in 1908 and originally cost $25,067.

Former UI President George MacLean moved into the house in 1909. At the time, the living room also functioned as the President’s Office.

Built on a bluff overlooking the Iowa River, the views from the home may be some of the most scenic in Iowa City.

The spacious three-story brick house, which has housed 13 UI leaders and their families, contains five bedrooms and four bathrooms. The President’s Residence also boasts two screened porches, a library, and a large room that serves as lecture hall and ballroom.

But don’t be fooled. Although the home is more than 12,000 square feet, only 25 percent of it is used for residential purposes — the other 75 percent is for hosting dinners with guest speakers, entertaining, and other institutional events. More than 100 functions take place there every year.

During Welcome Week, a seven-day extravaganza celebrating the start of a new school year, the president hosts a block party on the front lawn, filled with students, live music, and free barbecued food.

In 2003, the university spent almost $3 million renovating the mansion. Most of the money went to expanding the kitchen, upgrading the heating and cooling systems, and remodeling the single-car garage to fit two vehicles.

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