111 Church Street

History of the Obermann Center

In Fall 2010, the Obermann Center moved from its longtime home on the Oakdale campus north of Iowa City to a Tudor house at 111 Church Street. The University purchased the house in 2002, using it first as the home of the Provost and later as a center for post-doctoral writing students.

Built in 1925, the house is most associated with its longtime owners, Georgia and Baldwin Maxwell.  Baldwin Maxwell was the Head of the English department for a remarkable 33 years, ending in 1961. He oversaw the department through a period of major growth that included the start of the Writers’ Workshop and numerous other specialized programs. Georgia Smith Maxwell, a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, was considered one of the most influential hostesses in Iowa City. The couple was active in a number of social organizations, including Hiking Club, Dancing Club, and the Raphael Club. They also threw numerous memorable parties in their home, propitiously situated across the street from the University President’s home.

The Obermann Center today

Today, the building includes many of the charms that the Maxwells surely enjoyed, including two fireplaces, sloped ceilings, a screened porch, and a library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. More recent amenities include a full kitchen, complete with dishwasher and microwave, rain garden, a backyard patio, and house-wide Wi-Fi.

In addition to the offices available each semester to seven Fellows-in-Residence, the Center has a library and conference room where other Obermann Scholars, including members of our Working Groups and the Cmiel Semester, meet. These rooms can be reserved by Obermann-related groups and friends of the Center. To reserve these rooms, please contact Erin Hackathorn.