Illini Union History
The Illini Union originated in 1919 when the University rented space on the first floor
of the YMCA, now Illini Hall. With the Illini Union taking over the entire building,
plans were made to expand with a new building in 1938.
Built in 1939, and dedicated by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941, The Illini Union
is an establishment rich in history. Modeled after colonial Virginia, most of the
interior woodwork was carved by hand including an ornate lettering above the Pine Lounge
fireplace that spells Illini.
Not only does the interior reflect the colonial tradition but special details highlight
the exterior as well. The two clock towers are topped by an 11-foot bronze weather vane
that supports an 8-foot bronze arrow. The northern clock tower houses a clock, which was
a gift from the class of 1878.
In 1962, the Illini Union underwent a renovation expanding the Hotel guest rooms as well
as the addition of the Rec Room. To this day, the Illini Union remains as a gathering
place for students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests.