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Haverford College

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Summer is a time when a number of the College’s 90 buildings undergo routine renovation or repair. This July and August, however, work on three of Haverford’s buildings is far from routine. By late summer, the exteriors of two student residences, Drinker and the Ira DeA. Reid House, along with a portion of the oldest section of Magill Library will have been restored to their original colors.

The Henry S. Drinker Center, which was originally built for Haverford professor William Comfort before he became president of the College in 1917, is being restored to its 1903 colors. Its window frames and sashes, currently both burgundy, are being returned to their original cream sashes with deep chocolate frames, while the existing creamy stucco is being returned to its original caramel color with dark brown trim.

The Ira DeA. Reid House, built in 1911 and later named after an internationally known sociologist, who was Haverford’s first African American faculty member, will be painted in shades of green. Its existing cream siding and stucco with bright blue windows and trim have been reverted back to a grayish green siding with dark green window trim and a creamy stucco and sash.

The third structure that will undergo a partial restoration is the original portion of Magill Library, constructed in 1863 in the form of a cruciform Gothic Revival chapel with high arched windows. Its sand-colored window sashes will be replaced and finished in a dark brown color to more closely approximate the dark varnish identified on the original sashes. “This will allow the window mullions to disappear, showcasing the shape of the gothic windows as well as the stone façade,” explains facilities project manager, Kathleen DiJoseph.

With the support of a grant from the Getty Grant Program, the College engaged the services of a professional team of architectural preservationists who, working with the staff of Haverford’s archives and Quaker Collection, have conducted an extensive architectural survey of the College’s core historic structures. By the summer of 2004, they will have compiled an analysis of the original finishes and mortars of close to three dozen buildings, which over time, the College plans to restore to their original appearance.

The significance of this project and its goals are rooted in the history of the development of Haverford’s campus and its buildings. As the oldest institution of higher education with Quaker roots, Haverford’s campus houses what arguably is the most complete line of Quaker architectural commissions. Its original building, Founders Hall was constructed in 1833, and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Quaker academic architecture in the United States.

Currently the exterior color scheme of all the academic buildings corresponds to muted sandy tones of the original wood trim and barn-dashed stucco on Founders Hall, suggesting a uniform, “Quakerly” style to the campus. In fact, what could be identified as “Quaker aesthetic,” came in a variety of exterior colors and architectural styles over the 179 years since Founders Hall was constructed.

Barclay Hall, which was built 44 years after Founders, reflects a completely different style in its combination of Second Empire and Collegiate Gothic architecture. In the late 1800s, Lloyd Hall and Ryan Gymnasium were constructed in the style of Colonial Revival, which appeared again at the turn of the century in the designs for Union and Hall Buildings, Morris Infirmary and Sharpless Hall. In many cases, the exterior colors of the wood trim, windows or masonry on these buildings were distinctly different from the pale tan on the College’s first academic building.

Over the course of the survey, the consultants will identify and analyze a number of the original masonry materials and paint or surface finishes of these and the other major academic buildings. Once the team has completed its work, the information will be permanently archived for future reference, making it possible for the College to gradually restore the variety of exterior facades that more accurately represent the “Quaker aesthetic” that has come to define Haverford’s campus.

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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