Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Main Hall

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Institution Name: Salem College
Original/Historic Place Name: Main Hall
Location on Campus: Church St. on Salem Square
Date(s) of Construction:
1856original construction Fries, Frances Davis, Alexander Jackson
1857addition of south wing
Designer: Francis Fries/Alexander Jackson Davis
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Federal (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stuccoed stone
Walls: brick
Roof: asphalt shingle
ca. 1856residence hall
ca. 1856infirmary
ca. 1856chapel
ca. 1856-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)faculty offices
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration

In the mid nineteenth century, overcrowded conditions prompted the leaders of Salem to propose a new building for Salem Female Academy. The Gemein Haus, which had been the site for the beginning of the Girls' School in 1772, was torn down to make space for Main Hall. The building was located on the northeast corner of the Square between Home Church and the Girls' Boarding School (South Hall). Francis Fries, a prominent Salem businessman, designed and supervised the construction. He consulted with Alexander Jackson Davis, a New York architect, before drawing the plans.

Main Hall is a Federal style four-story brick building with a Doric portico and heavy cornice. The two-story portico is supported by fluted Doric columns of stuccoed brick. The double front door has sidelights and an elliptical fanlight. The façade of the building is stretcher bond, but the side and rear walls are common bond. At the rear, the first floor veranda wraps from the main building to the north wing in an "L" shape and forms a covered porch at the basement level. The south wing was not completed until 1857.

In the main building, the first and second floors were devoted to dwelling and school rooms; the third floor was a large dormitory, and the fourth floor had smaller classrooms and storage rooms. The north wing included the sickrooms and the wash or dressing rooms. In the south wing, the dining room occupied the first floor, and the Chapel was on the second floor.
Main Hall is used for classrooms and offices for faculty and administrators.


Griffin, Frances. Less Time for Meddling. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair Publishers, 1979.

Hartley, Michael O., and Martha B. Boxley. Salem Survey 1997. Winston-Salem, NC: Old Salem, Inc., 1997.

Hartley, Michael O., and Martha B. Boxley. Survey Files for Salem National Register Landmark District Proposal. Winston-Salem, NC: Old Salem, Inc., 1997.

Old Salem Historic District [Salem College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/ National Park Service, 1966.

Rauschenberg, Bradford L. Salem College Study. Winston-Salem, NC: Wachovia Historical Society, 1983.

Taylor, Susan. "Salem Campus Tour." [Salem, NC: Salem College], 1990.


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Last update: November 2006