The Jefferson Hotel

The Jefferson Hotel

129 E. Washington St. (Current Jefferson Building)

Built 1913 by a group of prominent Iowa City businessmen, the Jefferson Hotel’s “modern” appointments, such as an electric elevator, an artesian well, telephones, electric lights, and hot and cold running water, made it a premier hotel in Iowa early in the century.


John Berryman Stays at the Jefferson Hotel

On the evening of September 17, Berryman boarded the Pullman sleeper for Iowa City, and the following morning checked into the Jefferson Hotel. […] John Montague, the Irish poet, had enrolled in Berryman’s workshop and remembered seeing him eating alone at the Jefferson Hotel, a copy of The ‘Caine Mutiny’ open before him, ‘nervous, taut, arrogant, uneasy.’

Mariani, Paul L. Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman. New York: W. Morrow, 1990. Print.


Ray Young Bear reads at the Jefferson Building

On April 10th 1989, Ray Young Bear gave a talk and reading for the event ‘Creative Expressions: Poetry and Prose’ at 7:30 p.m., in the Jefferson Building on the University of Iowa campus.

Other participants in the event included Alurista, the Chicano poet and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship; Melba Joyce Boyd, the Afro-American poet and Fulbright Scholar; James Galvin, member of the Writers’ Workshop faculty; Ron Milner, Detroit playwright and winner of several awards including the Rockefeller Creative Artist Award; Peter Nazareth, the GoanlEast African author ‘and Chairman of the International Writers’ Program; Lorenzo Thomas. major Award-winning Afro-American Poet; and Rowena Torrevillas, the award-winning Filipino short story writer and member of the International Writers’ Program staff.

“Cultural ‘mosaic’ topic for program.” Daily Iowan, 10, Apr. 1986, pp. 5B.


Robert Lowell at the Jefferson Hotel

Robert Sullivan remembers receiving a phone call from Robert Lowell when he was staying at the Jefferson Hotel in downtown Iowa City:

[There was a call] from the Jefferson Hotel, not more than a mile or two from our apartment. The caller was Robert Lowell. I had not seen him or been in touch with him since Easter weekend, 1943, when he and Jean Stafford were living with Allen and Caroline T?te. I was surprised that Cal [Lowell’s nickname] remembered me, more surprised that he knew I was in Iowa, and even more surprised that he had found somebody, most likely Paul Engle, the director of the Writers’ Workshop, who knew how we could be reached. Cal even knew that I was married, and he invited Jane and me to come to his room. He was lonely. Would we come?

Sullivan, Walter. “Carousing With People, Walking with Dogs in Iowa City.” The Sewanee Review 112.4 (2004): 570-83. JSTOR. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.