The present North Hall was built to house University High School, an experimental school founded in 1916. Until it closed in 1972, the school’s core faculty of graduate students provided an evolving, progressive curriculum to children from Iowa City and its nearby environs. Now home to the School of Social Work and the Center for the Book, North Hall has a small café, Wild Bill’s, that employs and benefits persons with disabilities.
From City Guide: Iowa City by Jan Weissmiller:
Just north of the Iowa Memorial Union is North Hall, home to the Iowa Center for the Book (216 North Hall), founded by Merker, a student—along with Justice and Levine—in Berryman’s 1950s workshop. Tim Barrett, the MacArthur award–winning papermaker who was recently the subject of the New York Times Magazine article “Can a Papermaker Help to Save Civilization?” works there, preserving, documenting, and demonstrating centuries-old hand-papermaking practices, alongside former Iowa Center for the Book teacher Shari DeGraw, who does beautiful work with the Empyrean Press.
An unpretentious and relatively utilitarian building, North Hall continues Main Campus North’s string of red-brick buildings designed by Proudfoot, Bird and Rawson. With its modest entrance bay and the restriction of detailing to limestone quoins, it is also one of the least ornamented. Both the upper and lower entrances are crowned by plaques announcing the building’s former life as a school, and North Hall as a whole has a reticence in keeping with that history. One whimsical and enigmatic touch, a pair of doubled X’s, is executed in brickwork on the east façade.