Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Western Maryland College Alumni Hall

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Institution Name: McDaniel College
Original/Historic Place Name: Alumni Hall
Location on Campus: South entrance, west side
Date(s) of Construction:
1896-1899original construction Gott, Jackson
Designer: Jackson Gott
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: composition
 
Function:
ca. 1896student union (including assembly space, literary society meeting rooms, fraternity club rooms)
ca. 1896chapel
ca. 1896alumni center
ca. 2004-present (2006)theater
ca. 2004-present (2006)academic department building (theater arts)
 

Narrative:
Alumni Hall (very recently renamed Western Maryland College Alumni Hall to commemorate and perpetuate the former name of the College) is one of the largest and most-used buildings on campus. Its outward appearance of a grand opera house gives it stature, and its location on a corner near the town's main street makes it a well-known fixture in Westminster. Soon after it was built it became the town's "civic auditorium" (until the new high school was opened with a larger capacity in 1971). It saw service as the site for county musical festivals, city and county celebrations, and any event requiring a large space. The college used it for every commencement from 1899 until 1971, for Sunday chapel services from 1932 to 1958, for weekly assemblies of the entire student body until they were discontinued, and for various formal convocations until the College population grew too large for the space. Generations of students have spent time in the building, attending plays and concerts, pep rallies, movies, rained-out May Day festivities, Fall Convocations, and of course their graduation. Some of the early classes donated the stained glass windows which surround the stage and which are also located on the lower floor (these depicting the seven liberal arts in Victorian splendor).

Throughout its long history the building also was the site of the regular annual meeting of the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church (later the United Methodist Church), with which the College was affiliated until 1975. Many ministers of that church were ordained on the stage during an ordination service held there each year until Baker Memorial Chapel was built. The Westminster Theological Seminary also used it occasionally (1899-1958).

This building has played a pivotal role in the College's history for over one hundred years by serving a great variety of needs as they arose, including its present role as the site of the Theatre Arts Department as well as a venue for musical concerts by College organizations and professional groups.
 

References:

Bulletin of the Historical Society of Carroll County, Maryland 2, no. 2 (May 1952).

Chandler, Douglas R. Pilgrimage of Faith; A Centennial History of Wesley Theological Seminary--1882-1982. Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks Press, 1984.

Makisky, John D. "Western Maryland College in the Nineteenth Century." Western Maryland College Bulletin [n.d.].

Schofield, Samuel Biggs, and Marjorie Cowles Crain. Western Maryland College The Formative Years, 1866-1947. Westminster, MD: Western Maryland College, 1982.

Weeks, Christopher. "The Building of Westminster in Maryland." Bulletin of the Historical Society of Carroll County, Maryland 2, no. 1 (May 1949).

Western Maryland College Historic District [including McDaniel College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1976.

Zepp, Ira G. "Western Maryland College: The Hill." In A Grateful Memory: History of Baker Chapel. Westminster, MD: Western Maryland College, 1995.

 

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