Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Bridges Hall of Music and Lebus Court

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Institution Name: Pomona College
Original/Historic Place Name: Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music
Location on Campus: Fourth St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1915-1916original construction Hunt, Myron
Designer: Myron Hunt
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Mission/Mission revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: reinforced concrete
Walls: reinforced concrete and wood frame, stucco surface
Roof: red tile (Mediterranean Italian-Spanish Mission Revival style)
 
Function:
1970-present (2006)auditorium
ca. 1970-present (2006)academic department building (Lebus Court, art, and art history)
 

Narrative:
The Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music and Lebus Court were constructed in 1915-1916, along with the house music department classrooms and practice rooms (Lebus Court), a large public gathering space ("Little Bridges Hall of Music"), and the "Big Bridges" auditorium. A major building on architect Myron Hunt's central Marston Quadrangle, it has served as a site for concerts, recitals, convocations, special events, lectures, memorials, graduations, and weddings.

The building complex is a major example of Beaux-Arts Spanish Mission Revival Style in southern California, as well as of Myron Hunt's distinguished architectural career as leader of revival movements. The Hall of Music is a centrally located basilica with a triumphal arch facing Marston Quad on a cross-axis and anchoring the south side of Hunt's Pomona College Campus Plan of 1908-1914. Lebus Court is a U-shaped, Ionic columned "villa" courtyard facing women's residential halls on an axis to the south (Harwood Court). In the center of the courtyard is a classical contrapposto bronze nude statue,"Shepherd Boy with Reed Pipe" (Burt W. Johnson, Academy of Design, Florence, 1916).

Unique features of Bridges and Lebus include Italian-French Renaissance (e.g. Sebastiano Serlio Mannerist portals) and Spanish Andalusian influences (reflective of Myron Hunt's Beaux-Arts/eclectic training and Grand Tour). These are apparent in the north entrance Palladian (trabeated) triumphal arch, with dark wood English wainscoting and House of Commons seating within, topped by a colorfully painted Spanish-Italian Renaissance heavy wood ceiling (with Medici family coats of arms) and a majestic Fisk organ, inspired by Spanish Mission retablos (painted wood altars) at the end of the hall. The Janus-like building also contains eclectic palace and church references that refer to the "princely" Renaissance revival style. The building reinvents California Mission style in relation to these many and varied stylistic traditions, contributing to the strong regional growth and identity formation of the Beaux-Arts period.

The hall and courtyard are oriented to the outside with open portals and sight lines and serve as a portal to the south campus of Pomona College. The sides of Bridges and Lebus Court form boundaries of neighboring smaller garden courtyards, Memorial Courtyard to the east and Lyon Courtyard to the west. Public and private spaces define the building, which relates the public commons of the quadrangle to the private garden courtyards, re-imagining the Jefferson model of a central commons and side Scholar Gardens and integrating garden and architectural space. This makes for a monumental and intimate effect on the outside and inside, defining the campus plan and providing an intimate space for performance and interaction.

Today, Bridges and Lebus are in excellent condition after thorough renovation in 2002, which included the construction of a new Boston-made, Fisk organ for Little Bridges Hall of Music and the addition of three bays in the same Beaux-Arts Spanish Mission Revival Style to add additional storage space off stage. Lebus Court was also renovated in 1997 to seismic retrofit and upgrade computer hard wiring. Previously, Little Bridges was saved from demolition in 1969-1970 when serious seismic engineering was required. The stage was also enlarged for orchestra at that time. Upgraded and in fine condition today, Myron Hunt's building has been preserved and updated for contemporary use.

Lebus Court is now used for the Art and Art History Department offices and seminar rooms. It is also still used for music department offices and seminar rooms, though most of the music department has relocated to Thatcher Hall of Music (1970).
 

References:

Belioli, Jay, et al. Myron Hunt, 1868-1952: The Search for a Regional Architecture. Exhibition catalogue. Baxter Art Gallery, California Institute of Technology. Santa Monica, CA: Hennessey & Ingalls, 1984.

Dober, Richard. Comprehensive Land Use Plan for Pomona College. Claremont, CA: Pomona College, 1978.

Gebhard, David, and Robert Winter. Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide. Salt Lake City, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1994.

Hunt, Myron, and Elmer Grey, Architects, "Recommendations to the City of Claremont and to the Trustees of Pomona College, relating to the future development of the College Campus." Pomona College Bulletin 5, no. 4. Supplement to November 21, 1908, contains photographs and plans. Claremont, CA: Pomona College, 1908.

Klauder, Charles Z., and Herbert C. Wise. College Architecture in America and its Part in the Development of the Campus. New York and London: C. Scribner's Sons, 1929.

Lyon, E. Wilson. The History of Pomona College 1887-1969. Claremont, CA: Pomona College, 1977.

Memorials in American Colleges. Galesburg, IL: Knox College, [1930?]

Polyzoides, Stefanos. Campus Plan Study of Pomona College. Claremont, CA: Pomona College, 2002.

Walking Tour: The Claremont Colleges. Brochure. Claremont Heritage or Special Collections, Honhold Library. Claremont, CA: Claremont Historic Resources Center, 1982.

Wright, Judy. Claremont: A Pictorial History. Claremont, CA: Claremont Historic Resources Center, 1980.

 

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Last update: November 2006