Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Burwell Hall

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Institution Name: Queens University of Charlotte
Original/Historic Place Name: Administration Building
Location on Campus: 1900 Selwyn Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1914original construction Hook, C. C.
Designer: C. C. Hook (Charlotte, NC)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: masonry
Walls: brick exterior, plaster interior
Roof: Ludwitchi style
 
Function:
ca. 1914admissions office (College of Arts and Sciences and Hayworth College)
ca. 1914-1927dining hall (and kitchen)
1914-1959library
1914-1966other (literary society rooms)
ca. 1914-present (2006)administration (President, VP for Academic Affairs, University Advancement)
 

Narrative:
Landscape architect John Nolen designed the original campus plan of the University while designing the Myers Park neighborhood, where Queens University of Charlotte is located. Nolen and developer George Stephens planned Myers Park as a true neighborhood with an economic mix of housing, schools, grocery stores, and "mass transit"--no house was more than two blocks from the streetcar trolley. Queens College (now Queens University) was included as a part of the community. Stephens offered land to the Presbyterian College for Women, which was located uptown on College Street. The Trustees accepted the offer, and the Stephens Company granted fifty acres of land to Presbyterian College for Women in exchange for their original College Street building. The President of Queens and Nolen met to finalize the location of the campus in 1912.
Nolen's design for Queens positions the original five buildings in an "H" configuration, and the campus is one of the first in North Carolina to be designed using quadrangles. According to the Historic Commission reports on Myers Park, "the most significant aspect of the original campus was its site plan by John Nolen. By arranging the buildings in an 'H' he formed two quadrangles. He later used this double quadrangle idea in other campus designs, including that of UNC-Chapel Hill" (http://www.cmhpf.org/educationneighhistmyerspark.htm ). When the college moved to its current location, it changed its name to Queens College and sold 25 acres to finance the construction of the original buildings.
In 1913 Charles Christian (C. C.) Hook was engaged to design the first buildings on the campus.
Hook was Charlotte's first full-time architect. He studied at Washington University and came to Charlotte in 1891 to teach mechanical drawing. The developer Edward Latta paid Hook to draw plans for houses, and from this humble start, Hook became one of North Carolina's top designers. He designed Charlotte's City Hall, early buildings of Trinity College (1895-1925, now Duke University), and mansions in Charlotte and other cities. He is well known for his Colonial Revival style and was a member of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Burwell Hall is the focal point of the College's original five buildings and has always contained the administrative offices. Burwell is Georgian with eclectic stylistic modifications. Hook used an architectural motif of tapestry brick for the walls. The roof is a hip-roof of Spanish clay tile. The Neoclassical porticos are of Indiana limestone, as is the trim on the windows. Hook modified the Colonial double-sash window by exaggerating the height and balancing that exaggeration with elongated individual panes.

In 1914, the building was called the Administration Building. It housed the library, dining hall, kitchen, Pi Delta and Gamma Sigma Literary Society halls, and classrooms. In 1920 it was named Burwell Hall in honor of the first President of the Charlotte Female Institute (the antecedent institution of Presbyterian College for Women), Rev. Dr. Robert Burwell, and his wife, Margaret Anna. They directed Charlotte Female Institute from 1857 to 1872, with Dr. Burwell listed as the principal, Mrs. Burwell as the Matron. She was very involved with all activities in the school and was well loved by her students. After Mrs. Burwell's death, Dr. Burwell left the Charlotte Female Institute and went to Raleigh to direct Peace Institute.

A marble tablet honoring Mrs. Burwell was moved from the old Presbyterian College building and set in Burwell's main entrance. The tablet reads, "This Hall is Erected to the Glory of God. It is Dedicated to the Memory of Margaret Anna Burwell, Wife, Mother, Educator." Since 1966, this building has been used exclusively for administrative offices. The Admissions Offices of the Hayworth College and the College of Arts and Sciences are located on the first floor. The President's Office, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and University Advancement are located on the second floor. The parlors are no longer used as Literary Society Halls.

Burwell's interior has been remodeled during different periods of the University's history. The first major change took place when Morrison Hall was constructed in 1927. The kitchen and dining room were moved, and the library was expanded. The library was moved out in 1959, and a Board Room was constructed in its place. In the 1940s, Burwell was used as the social center for the campus. Dean Albright chaperoned meetings between the female students and their male visitors, as male visitors were not allowed on the back campus. Recently the parlors on the first floor have been refurbished with new drapes, furniture, oriental carpets, and refinished wood floors. The parlors contain antique English and French mirrors that are original to the building. Chaperones used the mirrors to watch the three rooms from one vantage point. The central parlor is flanked to the left by the game parlor and to the right by the music parlor. These were the original Literary Society Halls. Today, the parlors are used for social functions and small group meetings. The University faculty and staff also meet here each Thursday for a social tea.

The overall architectural classification of the building would be Georgian. However, C. C. Hook was inventive in his adaptation of stylistic affects. "The most daring and inventive example of this eclecticism in post-Victorian architecture is the design of the first buildings of Queens College by C. C. Hook. Each building is a hip-roofed, red brick block that recalls the Georgian colonial. But Hook adds other styles: 'Spanish' clay tile roofs, 'Neoclassical' stone porticos, and his own interpretation of Colonial double-sash windows…. Hook's playful, irreverent use of historical detail is surprisingly like the Post-Modern Movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the leading innovators of the Post-Modernism in the United States today is Charles Gwathmey, Hook's grandson." (Mary Kratt and Thomas W. Hanchett, Legacy: The Myers Park Story. [Charlotte, NC: Myers Park Foundation, 1990], 168).
 

References:

Bishir, Catherine, et. al. Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Hankin, Lisa Bush. "Charles Christian Hook." Online (2006). Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC. http://www.cmhpf.org/educationhook.htm

John Nolen Papers. 1890-1938, 1954-1960. Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections, Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Kratt, Mary Norton, and Thomas W. Hanchett. Legacy: The Myers Park Story. Charlotte, NC: Myers Park Foundation, 1986.

McEwen, Mildred Morse. Queens College, Yesterday and Today. Charlotte, NC: Queens College Alumnae Association, 1980.

Morril, Dan L., and Nancy B. Thomas. "The New South Neighborhoods: Myers Park." Online (2006). Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC. http://www.cmhpf.org/educationneighhistmyerspark.htm

 

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