The vociferous noises of construction abused my ear drums as I did a fast pace walk past there orange tarped fence. When I reached the edge of the fence, I saw first Stanley Residence Hall, towering over the Currier, then a glare from the sun hit my eye. I asked myself, what kind of thing was making this glare so powerful? I gazed over to my left to find the usual perpetrator. It was that blinding yellow sign plastered on the window of the old North Hall building. If you have ever seen North Hall, you can definitely judge a book by its cover in this case, with the old red bricks.
I walked on the semi cracked cement sidewalk, towards the old brick building. The windows were scattered across the building, it didn’t seem like there was a pattern at all. Although I have to give Proudfoot, Bird, and Rawson some sympathy, because they had to design it for a hillside. What aligned the stained glass windows were bricks of limestone. The rest of the building was coated with crimson.
Strolling up to the entrance of the old brick building, I was greeted by two things. First was the limestone design coordinated with the brown heavy metal doors. Succeeding that was a sign in sandstone, stating “Elementary school”, uncovering some history of this 1925 building.
Walking in, I got a old building smell. It didn’t just smell like a old building, it had the look, too. The walls were slathered with boring white paint. Every door in the building was either light brown metal or darker shade of wood. Even the benches were wood. All the brown and white had me itching my skin.
My decision to check out the other floors soon led to my downfall. At first I was confused at the floor plan. The third floor was the floor you first walked in, wouldn’t that be the first floor? My question was immediately answered by the building layout in the stairwell. It depicted that the fourth floor was above, the second and first were below. It was an odd set up but I wasn’t going to judge more than I already have.
Each floor mirrored each other. The white walls, the brown doors, the wood benches, it cycle never ended. While I was being drowned by the overuse of plain boring colors, I thought to myself, How could this depressing looking building have ever been a high school or a elementary school? School is already depressing enough, why did the interior designers have to make it worse?
On the outside, I seemed fine; on the inside, I was finding ever excuse not to tell everyone how plain and dull North Hall is. Until I found my salvation. Before I could march out the main entrance, on the third floor (pretty much first floor, north hall has two basements in my opinion) I saw the blue sign, with white outlining the words saying Wild Bill’s Cafe.
My first instinct was to investigate the mysterious cafe. I slowly walked down the hall. The cafe’s door was the last door on left.
I’ll be honest, when I walked into Wild Bill’s, I had a totally different thought in my mind of what it would look like. My judging conscience said, ‘It’s going to be more plain white walls, cement floors, and wood furniture.’ I was pleasantly surprised to see I was mostly wrong.
I was met by bright yellow walls, which was paired up with light brown wood floors. There was two long wooden bars, one tarped with delicious snacks and beverages. The second had the words “Beauty bar” carved on the top. Some of the furniture were single wood chairs, but had colorful seat pads that came with it. Out of all the six grey tables, each one had four wooden chairs. The table closest to the beauty bar had three people playing Monopoly. All of them were a lot older then me.
“Yes, I get Broadwalk!” One of the three exclaimed.
The thing that caught my eye was the two comfy sofa chairs, perfectly placed next to the window, making it a great spot to work on a homework. I shrugged and made my way over to the window. I plumped on to the green colored sofa chair, and started to get comfy.
I was about to check my phone, until I was interrupted.
“Anything I can get you sir?” A mysterious voice said over me.
I looked up to meet eyes with a very large man. Probably a couple of hundred pounds, 62 maybe 6’3. He had trimmed red bred, a shiny bald head, and pasty skin. The large man had a white spock on stating “Wild Bill’s cafe” and a red shirt under it.
After I examined the large man, I replied “I’m fine, I’m tired, it’s been a long day.”
“Well if you need anything, let me know, my name’s Tom,” he stated, cracking a smile.
He was about to walk away, until I stopped him.
“Wait Tom,” I exclaimed.
He turned back around to me.
“What is this building?” The question I wanted answered the whole day I finally blurted it out. Tom smiled in response.
“It’s the North Hall building, it holds the school of social work.”
“But it says Elementary school on the front?” I responded curiously.
“Here I’ll get you a coke and I’ll sit down and tell you the history of this building.”
Tom walked over to the beverage fridge, grabbed me a coke, and then dived into the deep history of North Hall.
Tom first started telling me “North hall was built in 1925 and its purpose was to house the experimental school founded in 1916. The school’s core faculty of graduate students provided education to Iowa city children until it was closed down 1972.”
He kept going on with the history of north hall, and briefly about wild bill’s history.
He told me the cafe was named after Mickey Rooney he was in a tv show where his name is Bill.
I was sitting comfortably on the green sofa chair absorbing all the information Tom was throwing at me. I couldn’t get enough, until after ten minutes of chatting, Tom had nothing else to tell me about old North Hall.
“Thanks Tom, for the story and the Coke,” I remarked.
“Anytime Ryan, thanks for listening.” Tom replied.
I shook hands with my new friend and left the cafe. I headed out the front door. As I walked through the large brown metal doors, I thought to myself how wrong I was. I went into North hall disgusted with it, now I enjoyed its presence. I never knew how much a cafe could turn a building from a dull old building to a place to enjoy your time.
I marched away from the ninety one year old building, feeling excited for my next visit.