Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Woodrow Wilson Hall and Auditorium

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Institution Name: Monmouth University
Original/Historic Place Name: Shadown Lawn
Location on Campus: 400 Cedar Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1927-1930original construction Trumbauer, Horace Abele, Julian
Designer: Horace Trumbauer; Julian Abele
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: steel skeleton, reinforced concrete structure, limestone facing
Walls: plaster, canvas, tile
Roof: terra cotta tile, main roof
 
Function:
ca. 1927private residence
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (special events)
ca. 2004-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration
 

Narrative:

Woodrow Wilson Hall, formerly Shadowlawn, was built from 1927-1930 as the main residence of the Shadowlawn estate, home of Hubert T. Parson, then President of the F.W. Woolworth Company. The building is the University's identifying landmark and the main administrative center of the institution. Classes are also conducted here. The mansion and grounds are often used for special events, such as historic tours, the University's commencement ceremony, conferences, dinner dances, and movie & commercial locations. The formal gardens are a favorite spot for wedding photographs. The west side of the mansion contains formal gardens and colonnades designed by Achille Duchene, renowned landscape artist (Restored in 1997 using historic photographs.). These include a column of original trees lining the driveway; a circular fountain (south facade)and an original north & south lawn space.

The National Register nomination form describes Woodrow Wilson Hall as "certainly the grandest residence ever built in New Jersey." The building ranks as one of 20 American palaces financed by tremendous fortunes acquired in the late 19th & early 20th centuries. It is a superb example of the Beaux-Arts style and was designed by renowned Philadelphia Architect Horace Trumbauer and his chief designer, Julian Abele. Trumbauer is best known for his eclectic mansions, including The Elms (Newport, RI, 1899) and Lynnewood Hall (Elkins Park, PA, 1893.) The building sits on the footprint of the "summer White House" of United States President Woodrow Wilson, where he delivered his Party's acceptance speech in 1916.

The building retains much of its original detailing and character. The University is committed to its role as steward of this historic structure and to date has received over one million dollars in matching grant funds from the New Jersey Historic Trust and The John Ben Snow Trust to restore the roof and other spaces.
 

References:

Fricker, Jonathan. Shadow Lawn [Monmouth University]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1978.

Gowans, Alan. Architecture in New Jersey, A Record of American Civilization. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1964.

Historic Structures Report [Woodrow Wilson Hall and Auditorium]. February 2000. Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ.

Maher, James T. Twilight of Splendor: Chronicles of the Age of American Palaces. Boston, MA: Little Brown & Company, 1975.

Van Benthuysen, Robert F. Crossroads Mansions: Shadowlawn and the Guggenheim Cottage. West Long Branch, NJ: Turtle Mill Press, 1987.

 

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Last update: November 2006