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Conservatory of Music

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Also Known As:

Music Building; University School of Music

The Conservatory of Music was a three story brick structure located on the southeast corner of 11th and R, directly across the street from the heart of the University of Nebraska. The Conservatory was a privately operated business undertaking of the director, Willard Kimball. Construction on the Conservatory of Music started early in 1894, during the worst economic crisis of the late 19th century. Many people in Lincoln, which was actually losing population, thought that Willard Kimball would never succeed in building a new Conservatory, but despite the odds, the partially completed building was opened in October of 1894.

The Conservatory of Music included a dining hall in the basement for students living in or enrolled in the Conservatory; faculty offices and instructional rooms and parlors on the first floor; and sleeping rooms for up to eighteen students on each of the two upper stories, with a piano in each room for practice. It also boasted steam heat and electricity. The sleeping rooms generated additional revenue that Willard Kimball used to pay for an eventual third story in 1910. The additional story included 30 practice rooms with pianos. Kimball originally intended to use the new third story as a large performance hall, but abandoned this idea when Soldiers Memorial Hall, with a large auditorium, was added to Grant Hall in 1900.

Around 1900 Kimball incorporated the business, calling it the University School of Music. The School's catalog eventually began to refer to the sleeping rooms as "girls accomodations". Use of the building as a partial dormitory continued up to around 1910 when the need for studio and office space replaced living quarters.

The University School of Music operated successfully through the 1920's. The Board of Regents purchased the School in 1930 when the economic depression made the School less financially viable. The building continued to serve as headquarters for the School of Music until the construction of Westbrook Music building in the 1960s. It was razed in 1968 and the site was used for the erection of Kimball Recital Hall, which opened in 1969. It is named in honor of Willard Kimball.

Source Information:
Minutes of the NU Board of Regents; biennial report of the Board of Regents, 1894