Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Barbelin Hall

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: Saint Joseph's University
Original/Historic Place Name: Barbelin Hall
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1927original construction Durang, F. Ferdinand
Designer: F. Ferdinand Durang (Philadelphia)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation:
Walls: Wissahickon schist, and limestone
Roof:
 
Function:
ca. 1927old main
 

Narrative:
Saint Joseph's could either claim to be in the last neighborhood on the western edge of the city or at the very entrance to the prestigious Philadelphia Main Line. The first building on the site, and the University's signature structure to this day, was built in the Collegiate Gothic style. Barbelin Hall was designed by architect Francis Ferdinand Durang (1884-1966), son of Edwin F. Durang, the architect of the Gesu and the college buildings in North Philadelphia. The building, sited on a hill, forms an open quadrangle and features a 165 foot high tower. Barbelin Tower was thought to be the highest point in the city due to its elevation and the height of the structure. Constructed of Wissahickon schist (a local stone) and limestone, the facade features gargoyles, heads of early presidents of the college, and an array of other limestone carvings.

The builder, John McShain, was a former student at St. Joseph's who had learned his trade in his father's construction business. The New Saint Joseph's College was his first major project. After Barbelin Hall, McShain went on to become one of the nation's most successful contractors. Among his most important contracts were the Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the complete restructuring of the White House during the Truman administration. He came to be known as "the man who built Washington."
 

References:

Catholic Herald. [n.d.].

Contosta, David R. Saint Joseph's: Philadelphia's Jesuit University, 150 years. Philadelphia, PA: Saint Joseph's University Press, 2001.

Donnelly, Eleanor C. A Memoir of Father Felix Joseph Barbelin, S. J. Philadelphia, PA: Frank A. Fasy, 1866.

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

Noll, Ray Robert. "A History of St. Joseph's College, Philadelphia, Pa. Before the Civil War." Manuscript. Archives, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA.

Philadelphia Catholic Standard and Times. [n.d.].

Public Ledger. [n.d.]

Talbot, Francis X. Jesuit Education in Philadelphia: St. Joseph's College. 1851-1926. Philadelphia, PA: Saint Joseph's University Press, 1927.

Thomas, George E. William L. Price Arts and Crafts to Modern Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000.

 

Contact us / About Site / About CIC
© 2006
Council of Independent Colleges
Washington, DC
All rights reserved
Last update: November 2006