After six weeks in steerage and a bout of measles, Carl Sjorstrand arrived in the United States from Sweden in 1869 at the age of 3 with his parents and sister. The family migrated to a farm in Boone in central Iowa.
When Carl started school, his teacher had difficulty pronouncing his last name, and it became “Seashore.”
It was unusual for children from Boone to go to college, but Carl was an exception. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., in 1891. While there, he was the organist and choir director of the Swedish-American Lutheran Church. He then earned the first Ph.D. in psychology awarded by Yale University.
Seashore joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1897 as an assistant professor of philosophy, becoming a full professor in 1902. He would be at the university almost 50 years.
By 1905, he was head of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology. When UI President George MacLean established the graduate college in 1908, he named Seashore as its first dean.
From then on, he was commonly known to Iowans as Dean Seashore.
He resigned as dean of the graduate college and head of the Department of Psychology in September 1936 but stayed on at the college another 10 years as dean pro tempore.
He had a stroke while visiting his son in Lewiston, Idaho, and died Oct. 16, 1949, at age 83.
Seashore was a pioneer in the fields of speech pathology and audiology and was a major contributor to making psychology a universally recognized science. He researched the psychology of music and developed a test to measure musical ability. He wrote 273 articles and books.
Not bad for an Iowa farm kid.
In 1981, the University of Iowa would rename East Hall in Seashore’s memory.
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The first building that would become part of Seashore Hall was built on the site of the old Mechanics Academy.
What was eventually the southwest wing of the hall, at 328 Iowa Ave., opened on Jan. 11, 1898, as the University of Iowa’s first teaching hospital, not long after Seashore arrived on the UI campus. The wing served as part of the original hospital until 1928. It also housed the first university school of nursing, with seven nurses graduating from the school in 1900.
By 1915, after three wings had been added to the hospital, it had outgrown its facilities. When a 1919 state law required the hospital to accept patients statewide, ground was broken for a new hospital west of the Iowa River.
With the hospital vacating the building that had been renamed East Hall in 1928, Seashore saw an opportunity and moved the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences into it in 1930.
The Daily Iowan, the university’s newspaper, had moved into East Hall in 1940 after a fire gutted its former home in the attic of Close Hall. The yearbook and humor magazine staffs, as well as the offices for the Department of Journalism, also moved in, with the School of Journalism moving into the East Hall annex in 1941.
Army pre-meteorology students took over the second, third and fourth floors of the east wing in 1943 during World War II.
In 1946, the top two floors of East Hall’s center section caught fire early the morning of May 16.
By 1952, the Iowa testing program, on East Hall’s third floor, was forced to evacuate when a weakness in floor joists was detected. The College of Education, on the second floor beneath the weakened floor, also was evacuated until repairs were made.
In 1981, the State Board of Regents approved renaming East Hall as Seashore Hall.
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The ever-changing campus added the Science Laboratories of Psychology building in 1968, blocking the original entrance to Seashore.
The southwest wing of the original Seashore was vacated in 1999 due to fears the roof would collapse. A couple of journalism classrooms, part of the psychology library, some offices, art projects and laboratories were moved. The wing was demolished in 2000.
What remained of Seashore Hall provided temporary office space to staffers from Hancher Auditorium and the School of Art and Art History and Hancher Auditorium after the 2008 flood destroyed those buildings.
end is near
Seashore Hall was deemed ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of all the changes and modifications made to the building over a century of use. Its maintenance costs continued to rise.
In April 2016, the regents approved razing the now-vacant, three-story southeast wing of Seashore to make way for a 34,795-square-foot Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences building, Construction of the new building is expected to be completed by the spring of 2019.
That approval effectively halted a 2014 proposal to upgrade and modernize parts of Seashore.
The six-story part of Seashore Hall — the part closest to Jefferson Street — will be razed in 2020, after the new Brain Sciences building opens. And that will be the end of the building that saw many changes and many uses in its 123-year history.