Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Murphy Hall

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Institution Name: Arcadia University
Original/Historic Place Name: Stables of the Harrison Estate
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1891original construction Trumbauer, Horace
Designer: Horace Trumbauer
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone and mortar
Walls: stone (Wissahickon schist) and red brick
Roof: red terra cotta tile
 
Function:
ca. 1891other (stables, carriage house, and possible automobile garage for Harrison family, with a large clock tower)
ca. 2004-present (2006)auditorium (largest campus auditorium, seats 400)
ca. 2004-present (2006)faculty offices
ca. 2004-present (2006)academic department building (art studios, communications studios, laboratories)
 

Narrative:
Murphy Hall, which is located across a stream valley from the Castle, is a most singular building. It forms a large open square, with an internal courtyard that was once covered by concrete pavers, now a garden. The outer and inner courtyard walls have a half story of stone, above which run bricks with a large X pattern created by darker colored bricks. The courtyard is entered through an archway; on the opposite side a clock tower rises to about 50 feet, surmounted by a sloping conical tile roof. Many windows have a gothic shape. It is one of the first large buildings designed by Horace Trumbauer, but its rather utilitarian nature has kept it from receiving much attention. In its own way, perched on a hill with its massive tower, Murphy is as impressive as Grey Towers Castle and is sometimes mistaken for "the Castle" by unknowing visitors. It is also an example of adaptive reuse, or rather re-uses, as the University's utilization of the space has gone through at least two major iterations. Initially, very little of the large interior spaces were modified. Then, a basketball court was laid down in one space, and later a 400-seat sloping auditorium/chapel was constructed above the court. More recently, the athletic space was made over into art studios and communications laboratories.
 

References:

Gallagher, Marie. "In Search of William Welsh Harrison and His Legacy." Senior thesis, Arcadia University, 1993.

Kathrens, Michael C. American Splendor, The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer. New York: Acanthus Press, 2002.

Matthews, Kenneth D. Grey Towers Castle, A Living Landmark. Brochure. Philadelphia: Arcadia University, 1985.

Matthews, Kenneth D. Grey Towers, the former William Welsh Harrison Home. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1980.

Matthews, Kenneth D. The Story of Grey Towers: A Great American Castle. Brochure. Philadelphia: Arcadia University, 1985.

Platt, Frederick. "Horace Trumbauer: A Life in Architecture." Philadelphia Magazine of History and Biography 85.4 (2001): 314-49.

 

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