A steam shovel broke ground April 30, 1928 on the site of the former College of Pharmacy medicinal herb garden to create a gathering place with majestic pillars that would ultimately become one of the University of Minnesota's major icons and focal points.
Northrop was designed by Clarence H. Johnston, also the architect of the row of flats on St. Paul's Summit Avenue where F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived.
Named in honor of Cyrus Northrop, second president of the University (1884-1911).
The new president won the hearts of students, faculty, and people of the state. “His reign was a beneficent monarchy,” E.B. Pierce wrote in Minnesota Alumnus in 1946. “There were not many rules and regulations—only his requests—and those through affection and great regard, became mandates. Never was a president more loved and revered by a student body.” Northrop was called “Prexy,” and on the days when he led chapel, students came en masse. The second stanza of the original version of “Hail, Minnesota!” was a tribute to Northrop: “Hail to thee, our Prexy, sire. Thou has made us all thine own. And our hearts one boon aspire, That our love may be thy throne.”
Referred to as "the Carnegie Hall of the Midwest.
A sizable pipe organ was installed in the building over the course of three or four years beginning in 1932. It is one of the largest organs built by Aeolian-Skinner that still exists, although the exact size seems to be in dispute. A conservative count records 81 stops, 108 ranks, and 6,963 pipes.
It sits at the north end of Northrop Mall, a grassy area of the core campus which is lined with physics, mathematics, chemistry, and administration buildings, plus Walter Library. Coffman Memorial Union sits at the south end, opposite the auditorium, across Washington Avenue.
The Northrup stage was retrofitted with a "Balanchine basketweave" floor in 1974.
From the time of construction until 1974, the building served as home of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (today known as the Minnesota Orchestra). The Metropolitan Opera performed there until 1986. Through the 2008 season, the university's marching band regularly used the building in the fall semester.
Lectures once featured T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost.
Jerry performed here on
10/19/71 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
3.)^Gray, James, The University of Minnesota: 1851–1951 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1951), 80, 83-84, and 142-44
4.)^Pierce, E. B. , Alumni Magazine (April, 1946): 221-222.