Iowa House / Iowa Memorial Union

Iowa House / Iowa Memorial Union

125 N. Madison St.

The Iowa Memorial Union, or IMU, at University of Iowa opened in 1925. The building currently houses a number of student clubs and the Iowa House Hotel.


John Cheever and Raymond Carver at the Iowa House

Cheever remarked that he could always recognize “an alcoholic line” in a writer’s work. I’m not exactly sure what he meant by this but I think I know. When we were teaching in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the fall semester of 1973, he and I did nothing but drink. I mean we met our classes, in a manner of speaking. But the entire time we were there—we were living in this hotel they have on campus, the Iowa House—I don’t think either of us ever took the covers off our typewriters. We made trips to a liquor store twice a week in my car.

[…] He lived on the fourth floor of the hotel and I lived on the second. Our rooms were identical, right down to the same reproduction of the same painting hanging on the wall. But when we drank together, we always drank in his room. He said he was afraid to come down to drink on the second floor. He said there was always a chance of him getting mugged in the hallway!

-Raymond Carver

Simpson, Mona, and Lewis Buzbee. “Raymond Carver, The Art of Fiction No. 76.” The Paris Review, 12 June 2017, www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3059/the-art-of-fiction-no-76-raymond-carver.


Marvin Bell and Donald Justice: Iowa Memorial Union

So, I asked John Logan, what shall I do now? And he said, well, there’s something at the University of Iowa called the Writers’ Workshop. I will send a letter to the poet, who teaches there, Donald Justice, and you can go and be interviewed, and maybe you can do that. So, I took a bus — I thought, Iowa City?…That’s the wilds!…I’m not, I’m not going to drive out there — I took a bus and stayed at a hotel that doesn’t exist anymore, it was downtown. I met Donald Justice in the Iowa Memorial Union the next day, and we talked for a little while, and then … we went bowling! There used to be bowling alleys in the basement of the Union. I was accepted into the Workshop.

Bell, Marvin. “Interview,” The Writing University website

Literary Reference

Raymond Carver and Donald Justice at the Iowa House

In Iowa City, Raymond Carver lived in the Iowa House at the Iowa Memorial Union: his room was two floors above John Cheever’s room, and both of them used to spend the days and nights there, talking and drinking. Donald Justice remembered:

I’d see [Carver] around the offices quite a bit. Our paths crossed mostly in socializing, at parties. I remember a poker game in his room on the Iowa House one Sunday evening in which I lost heavily. Ray bluffed me out of a couple of hands.

Halpert, Sam. Raymond Carver: An Oral Biography. University of Iowa Press, 1995