After a fire, Margaret Keyes ’39 is consulting once again on restoration
of the Old Capitol in Iowa City.
When the University of Iowa’s beloved Old Capitol
ceiling and dome burned down last year, Margaret
Keyes ’39 received a phone call from the president
seeking her expertise. A previous U of I president had
asked Keyes to direct the restoration of the Old
Capitol in 1970, after which she published Old
Capitol: Portrait of an Iowa Landmark (1988).
A well-known resident of Iowa City, Keyes comes from
a legacy of Cornell graduates and Mount Vernon
dwellers. Her grandparents were Mount Vernon pioneers
and her father, Charles R. Keyes, Class of
1894, taught German at Cornell from 1903 until
1941. Her sister was Catharine K. Miller ’31.
Keyes, a U of I professor emerita, was awarded a
master’s degree in related art (design) from the
University of Wisconsin and a PhD in interior design
and housing from Florida State University. In 1967
she published Nineteenth Century Home Architecture
of Iowa City, which has since been reprinted with two
added chapters. Cornell’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa
elected her as an alumna in 1975 and the college
awarded her an honorary degree in 1976.
Keyes has given nearly 4,000 volunteer hours in the “day of surgery” lounge at the University Hospitals
and Clinics. Like her father, she chaired the State
Historical Society of Iowa. She is a major contributor
to Cornell’s arts campaign and is honored in the
newly dedicated McWethy Hall by the Margaret N.
Keyes Art History Room.
“My fondest memories from Cornell are the relationships
I developed that have lasted over the years. I
have some good friends still today that I made at
Cornell, even one who is coming in to visit me from
Illinois tomorrow,” Keyes said recently.