Built to house the College of Law, Gilmore Hall provided that faculty a suitable space after years of overcrowding in the Old Capitol. It was eventually renamed after Eugene A. Gilmore, dean of the College of Law, who went on to become president of the University of Iowa (1934–1940). During his administration the University suffered drops in enrollment and resources due to the Great Depression. Gilmore was known for his efforts to press forward with a plan for expansion of both student body and facilities and for projecting an aura of optimism and growth that belied the troubled academic and economic climate of that era. Gilmore Hall now houses critical University administrative functions, including the offices of the Vice President for Research and the Office of the Dean of the Graduate College. The Department of Religious Studies occupies the top floor.
The building is the earliest surviving classroom building originally located north of the Pentacrest and indicates an intention to continue with the limestone Beaux-Arts Classicism of Schaeffer Hall, which was the only one of the projected Pentacrest buildings completed at the time. Gilmore Hall’s use of limestone and the Ionic order attaches authority to the building and makes clear the importance of the program housed there. Approached from the west, today it seems a continuation of the quartet of Beaux-Arts buildings across Jefferson Street to the south. Originally, Gilmore’s engaged columns, massing, and its horizontal lines of rustication portended the end façades of Macbride and Jessup, both yet to be built. A line of brackets beneath the roofline visually supports the cornice while drawing attention to the high windows shared by the building’s third and fourth floors. Once an elegant, Doric-columned law library, that space has been split into two levels to provide for additional offices. Also inside, an ornate and noteworthy entry stair has been partially restored. Gilmore Hall’s over-scaled ground floor indicates that the design anticipated a future extension to the north.
The building offers limited accessibility to persons with disabilities.