Old Main


Skill level for model-building:  Advanced

A monumental example of mid-nineteenth century Academic Gothic architecture, Old Main has been in continuous use as the central academic and administrative building of Knox College since it was built in 1857. The architect Charles Ulricson used geometric patterns and proportions combined with striking vertical visual elements to emphasize the height of the building (the central towers are 66 feet high) on the prairie landscape. The grand scale is carried to the building interior by high ceilings, unusually tall panel doors, and the tall windows.  Old Main was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It is the last remaining building site that served as a location for the Lincoln Douglas Debates.

Click to learn more about Old Main at Knox College

Please note that what is labeled as the 'front' facade on the model refers to the side facing the Knox College campus to the south.

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Tips for construction of cardstock models:

  1. Print the model pages out in color onto cardstock. Normal weight paper will be too flimsy. Larger, more challenging buildings can take many sheets of cardstock. For example, the Gardner Museum takes 10 sheets; Old Main requires 17; while the Old State Capitol requires a substantial 41 sheets (not for the faint-hearted). Smaller less complex buildings are better for first-time or younger builders. The Thomas Lincoln home and the Berry-Lincoln Store each only require 2 sheets; most of the Main Street buildings take 5 sheets or less of cardstock.
  2. Although not required, you may wish to print out a second copy (plain paper is fine) as a reference guide. Once you start cutting out your cardstock model pieces you may find it helpful to be able to read all of the notes and arrows on a second, uncut, plain-paper copy.
  3. Use sharp scissors or a slim, handled, craft-knife when cutting. A metal straight-edge will assist when you cut.
  4. Although standard white “school” glues will work, some similar “craft” opaque white glues dry more quickly and with less warping. Clear plastic-model glues, rubber cement, or glue sticks don’t work as well.
  5. When gluing, lightly glue the tabs only, not the receiving surface. Be careful not to use too much glue or the paper may warp or pucker.
  6. Let the model dry after gluing each piece before attempting the next. You may find that you want to space construction out over more than one day.
  7. To make the crispest edges, lightly score along the inside of fold lines before folding.
  8. Glue the roof on last.
  9. Enjoy Building Your Own Illinois historic building and check back again for additional buildings.