Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Janet Jacks Balch Hall

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Institution Name: Scripps College
Original/Historic Place Name: Janet Jacks Balch Hall
Location on Campus: 1030 North Columbia Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1929original construction Hunt, Sumner
Designer: Sumner Hunt
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
ca. 1929-present (2006)faculty offices
ca. 1929-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration

Sumner Hunt designed Balch Hall, which was constructed in 1929. As noted in the Guide to the Campus, the "architecture of this academic building is more formal and severe" than that of the dormitories, which were designed by Gordon Kaufmann. However, the severity of "a long row of office windows on the east side is softened by the use of simulated arches the length of the wall." In addition, courts and loggias that "are almost classic in their simplicity" enhance the design (Bruce Coats and Judy Harvey Sahak, Guide to the Scripps College Campus [Claremont, CA: Scripps College, 2002]).

As noted by Coats and Harvey Sahak, "When Janet Jacks Balch joined the Scripps Board of Trustees in 1926, she was described as 'one of the most brilliant women in America.' Together with her husband, who was prominent in the development of electrical power companies, she supported educational and artistic causes in Southern California, including Scripps College, the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), and the Hollywood Bowl."

Coats and Harvey Sahak provide the following description of Sycamore Court: "Upon
entering through the grand archway that looks west to Tenth Street, visitors to the campus can turn left into the Office of Admission area, ascend the open staircase to various academic spaces, or cross the foyer into Sycamore Court. The California sycamore trees, planted here by Huntsman-Trout in 1929, provide a spectacular canopy for the court in spring and summer months"

"Lining the arcades of Sycamore Court are eight bas-relief panels sculpted by John Gregory, representing famous plays by William Shakespeare. The plaster sculptures served as the models for the marble carvings installed at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. These panels were made available to Scripps College by the Folger Shakespeare Library director, Louis B. Wright, a close friend of Frederick Hard, the fourth president of Scripps College (1944-1964), and by the Board of Trustees of Amherst College, which administers the Library. A ninth panel, representing Julius Caesar, is on the Amherst College campus."

Eucalyptus Court was designed to accommodate a fully- grown tree. As noted in the Guide to the Campus, "when the construction of Balch Hall began, it was discovered that the position of the tree was not the best in relation to the proportions of the flagstone court with its central foundation, and as a result, the whole plan of construction was shifted to the south three to five feet to accommodate the tree. It is for this reason that the main entrance to Balch Hall is not centered in relation to Tenth Street, which it faces."

A fountain is in the center of Eucalyptus Court. In the southeast corner of the courtyard is the 1937-1939 tile mural by Alfredo Ramos Martinez, "The Flower Vendors."


A Tour of the Campus Including an Account of Special Collections, Certain Architectural Features, and Other Items. Claremont, CA: Scripps College, 1960.

Belloli, Jay et al. Johnson, Kaufmann, and Coate: Partners in the California Style. Claremont, CA: Trustees of Scripps College, 1997.

Bernard, Robert J., An Unfinished Dream: A Chronicle of the Group Plan of the Claremont Colleges. Claremont, CA: Claremont University Center, 1982.

Birnbaum, Charles R., and Robin Karson, eds. Pioneers of American Landscape Design. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.

Campus Master Plan. Archives, Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

Clark, Alson. "The 'California' Architecture of Gordon B. Kaufmann." Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter Review 1, no. 3 (1982): 1-8.

Coats, Bruce and Judy Harvey Sahak. Guide to the Scripps College Campus. Claremont, CA: Scripps College, 2002.

Deferred Maintenance and Capital Renewal Report. [Claremont, CA: Scripps College, n.d.].

Eckbo, Garrett. Urban Landscape Design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.

Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Landscape and Architectural Blueprint. Forthcoming. Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

Larson, Jens Frederick and Archie MacInnes Palmer. Architectural Planning of the American College. New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1933.

Lyon, E. Wilson. The History of Pomona College, 1887-1969. Claremont, CA: Pomona College [in consortium with Scripps College], 1977.

Polyzoides, Stephanos. "Gordon B. Kaufmann, Edward Huntsman-Trout, and the Design of the Scripps College Campus." In Johnson, Kaufmann, and Coate: Partners in the California Style. Claremont, CA: Trustees of Scripps College, 1997, 83-113.

Scripps College. Cultural Landscape Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, [forthcoming].

Solomon, Barbara Miller. In the Company of Educated Women. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1985.

Turner, Paul Venable. Campus: An American Planning Tradition. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.


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