Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

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Somsen Hall Celebrates 100 Years

Somsen+Hall+still+stands+tall+after+hosting+students%2C+faculty+and+staff+for+100+years+now.
Karalyn Kolstad
Somsen Hall still stands tall after hosting students, faculty and staff for 100 years now.

A student taking their first walk on campus is struck by awe with the way the brick building looms up in front of them. Upon walking up, students grace the steps that now 100 years’ worth of students have walked upon. The impact of each foot falling where thousands of students have walked. When both students and staff alike push open the heavy wooden doors of Somsen Hall, they’re entering a century of history.

According to Winona State University News, Somsen Hall was designed by the State Board of Control’s chief architect, Clarence H. Johnston, who also designed Phelps Hall. Somsen Hall was built in 1924 and is a “Collegiate Gothic style” building. 2024 marks the 100th year of this building recognized as historic by Winona State University and the State of Minnesota.

Somsen Hall held its first ever classes in the fall of 1924 and its historical presence is always felt at Winona State. When Winona State first opened as a University, Phelps Hall and Somsen Hall were the only two buildings. This makes the historic halls of Somsen the building blocks of the Winona State students see today.

Kenneth Janz, the Interim President at Winona State has been a professor and working doing various jobs at Winona State for 16 years.

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“As we come to 2024, this building is now 100 years old and that’s worth celebrating,” Janz said. “We’re going to be doing an event in May, which is historical preservation month, I believe. So, the National Preservation Commission is going to be coming here to celebrate the 100th birthday of Somsen Hall.”

This celebration is important because of the amount of history that Somsen Hall holds. Between the gothic architecture, high ceilings, and the generations of students who have walked its halls, the history is palpable and undeniable.

“I do love the history of this building. I mean, this president’s office, I mean like, wow… you sit in this office and there’s just history here,” Janz said.

Not only is the importance of this building felt by faculty, but students can also feel just how important Somsen Hall is. The architecture makes Somsen Hall’s age apparent, but that doesn’t mean that the hall itself is stuck in 1924, with additions such as a multi-monitor classroom and the business engagement center that allows students to practice for upcoming interviews and more. Somsen Hall houses the Winona State College of Business, which is an important branch for learning here at Winona State.

First year marketing student, Hannah Jerabek understands the importance of both the modern and historical pieces of Somsen Hall.

“My favorite part of Somsen definitely has to be the café. It’s a great place to study and has a ] which is a huge plus,” Jerabek said. “I feel like it’s important for WSU to keep this building not only because of the beauty of it but business majors make up so much of WSU students and that’s the business building.”

The new parts of the building are extremely important to student life; however, many students still love the older parts of Somsen Hall. The older architecture style provides much of the character that the building is known for.

“Sing+Tonic” is the Winona State aholds their rehearsals in the auditorium of the historic Somsen Hall. Co-President, a music liberal art’s third year student, Katie Eilers has fond memories of the group in the old auditorium.

“I loved when we [Sing+Tonic members] were smiling crazily at each other while singing ‘The Most Wonderful Time of The Year.’ We tried to sing the whole song while smiling and we would stop if anybody stopped smiling. The breaths of relief and laughter that we all let out once we got through it were great,” Eilers said.

The Somsen Auditorium is known for its beauty and the attention that was paid to every detail within it. Students of Winona State are making memories in the same places that people were making memories 100 years ago. The mixture of modern details and historic ones are all a part of the experience of Somsen Hall.

“I think the older parts of the building are so cool! Obviously, it is nice to have a building with updated places, but the detail and architecture of the old buildings are so fun to look at,” Eilers said.

Even in a building that is a part of the National Registry of Historic Places, memories are still being made. 100 years of memories have been made so far within the building’s existence and Winona State is looking forward to many more students and faculty having the opportunity to create memories in this building. Somsen Hall is a monument to many years of forward movement and memories within Winona State University.

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About the Contributors
Alayna Majkrzak, News Reporter
Alayna Majkrzak (she/they) is a first-year at Winona State University and is a news reporter here at The Winonan. Majkrzak is a CALT (Communication, Arts, and Literature Teaching) major and is minoring in theatre.   In their spare time, they enjoy crocheting, reading and writing. Though, all these activities are preferably done in a comfortable sweater while listening to their favorite playlist or watching Ghost Adventures. Back at home, Majkrzak was involved in their school newspaper for four years, and they are incredibly excited to continue their passion for honesty through journalism in college.  
Karalyn Kolstad, Photographer
Karalyn Kolstad (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Winonan. This is Karalyn's first semester with The Winonan. She is a third-year student at Winona State University majoring in Medical Laboratory Science. She is also the secretary of the Biology Club on campus. Outside of school, Karalyn enjoys hanging out with friends and family, watching movies and reading. 

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