Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Francis Scott Key Auditorium and Mellon Hall

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Institution Name: St. John's College (MD)
Original/Historic Place Name: Francis Scott Key Auditorium and Mellon Hall
Location on Campus: back campus (lower campus)
Date(s) of Construction:
1956original construction Neutra, Richard J. Alexander, Robert E.
1989addition of one-story wing to east elevation Weller, Fishback & Bohl
Designer: Richard Neutra & Robert E. Alexander (original architects); Weller, Fishback & Bohl of Annapolis (addition architects)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/post-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete, cinderblock
Walls: brick, limestone
Roof: flat-tar
ca. 1958theater
ca. 1958-present (2006)other (laboratories)
ca. 1958-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)observatory (planetarium)
ca. 2004-present (2006)auditorium
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration

Designed by the California firm of Neutra and Alexander, this modernist building contains the 600-seat Francis Scott Key Auditorium, Conversation Room, music library, music and laboratory classrooms, and administrative offices (added in 1989). The auditorium was named for St. John's most famous alumnus; the building was named for philanthropist Paul Mellon, a student at the college in 1940 and a generous benefactor. The building also houses an observatory and the Theodore McKeldin planetarium. President Eisenhower dedicated the complex in 1958. The building is significant as one of the few surviving Neutra buildings on the East Coast and reflects many of Neutra's guiding principles, such as bringing the outdoors to those indoors. This is best seen the FSK lobby, with its wall of windows and interior landscaping.


"College Buildings: St. John's, Science and the Arts in a Venerable Setting." Architectural Record 12 (September 1959): 176-79.

Trieschmann, Laura, and Kim Williams. McDowell Hall, St. John's College. Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties report. Crownsville, MD; Maryland Historical Trust, 2000.

Weigle, Richard Daniel. Recollections of a St. John's President: 1949-1980. Annapolis, MD: St. John's College Press, 1988.


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Last update: November 2006