Kemper Hall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kemper Hall
Kemper Hall.JPG
Kemper Hall is located in Wisconsin
Kemper Hall
Kemper Hall is located in the US
Kemper Hall
Location 6501 3rd Ave., Kenosha, Wisconsin
Coordinates 42°34′35″N 87°48′50″W / 42.57639°N 87.81389°W / 42.57639; -87.81389Coordinates: 42°34′35″N 87°48′50″W / 42.57639°N 87.81389°W / 42.57639; -87.81389
Area 7 acres (2.8 ha)
Built 1911 (1911)
Architectural style Gothic, Italianate
Part of Third Avenue Historic District (#88002022)
NRHP Reference # 76000067[1]
Added to NRHP June 7, 1976

Kemper Hall is located in Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.


Kemper Hall was originally known as Durkee Mansion, the estate of early Kenosha, Wisconsin settler Charles Durkee. The mansion was built in 1861 as Durkee was completing his one term in the United States Senate. Four years later, he donated the building to St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, who aimed to convert the house into a girls' boarding school. It was renamed Kemper Hall in honor of Jackson Kemper, the first missionary bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.[2]

Kemper Hall served in this role for 105 years. In 1875, the church built a chapel north of Kemper Hall, and a year later, the first graduating class held its ceremony there. The mansion was linked to the church in 1908 with the construction of the cloister music house. A four-story dormitory was built to the south of this complex in 1894 and extended in 1901. A boiler room was built behind the complex in 1905. Six years later, a convent was built to the north, linked to the chapel with a nun's residence.[2]

The school was never particularly large, graduating only 1600 students in its history. They accepted women to its preparatory school regardless of religion, race, or background. Among the alumnae is Bojan Hamlin Jennings, the first woman to be awarded a doctoral degree by Harvard University. Kemper Hall announced that it was going to close in late 1974.[2] On June 7, 1976, the building complex was honored by the National Park Service with a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. When the Third Avenue Historic District was established six years later, Kemper Hall was listed as a contributing property.[1] It was purchased by Kenosha County and operated as Kemper Center, a recreational center.[3]