Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


John A. W. Haas College Center

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Institution Name: Muhlenberg College
Original/Historic Place Name: Haas Library
Location on Campus: 2400 Chew St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1926-1929original construction Ruhe & Lange
Designer: Ruhe & Lange (Allentown, PA)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete
Walls: limestone, precast, brick
Roof: slate and copper
1991-present (2006)admissions office
1991-present (2006)administration (administrative and business offices, President and Deans' Offices)

The 1916 Campus Architectural and Landscape Master Plan that was part of an ambitious "Plan For a Greater Muhlenberg" identified the need and the site for the College's first library building. Originally conceived by the architectural firm of Ruhe and Lange of Allentown, PA in a Beaux Arts neoclassical style, the design changed significantly after a planning committee of faculty and students visited Oxford University in England. English Collegiate Gothic seemed to planners at the time to exemplify the institutional character to which Muhlenberg wished to aspire. Tom Tower at Christ Church College, Oxford, was considered particularly appealing and appropriate. As a result, the classically inspired dome originally proposed was replaced by an approximate replica of Tom Tower as the crowning feature of the new library building.

The library was eventually named to honor John A. W. Haas, president of the College at the time of construction between 1926 and 1929. In 1991, after extensive remodeling and restoration under the supervision of Perry Dean Rogers and Partners of Boston, it was rededicated as the John A. W. Haas College Center. The building, with its 100-foot "gothic" floodlit tower, is situated on one of the highest points in Allentown's historic west end neighborhood and stands as the College's proudest symbol of intellectual pursuit and institutional accomplishment.


Dober, Richard P. Campus Architecture: Building in the Groves of Academe. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996.

Dober, Richard P. Campus Design. New York: John Wiley, 1992.

A Greater Muhlenberg. Master Plan. 1916. Special Collections, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA.

Muhlenberg College, Its History and Record. Allentown, PA: [Muhlenberg College], 1927.

Muhlenberg Weekly, February 14, 1923. Muhlenburg College, Allentown, PA.

Muhlenberg Weekly, May 26, 1926. Muhlenburg College, Allentown, PA.

Swain, James E. A History of Muhlenberg College, 1848-1967. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967.


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