Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
John McMillan Hall

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Institution Name: Washington and Jefferson College
Original/Historic Place Name: Administration Building
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1793original construction
1903relocation; 40 feet
Designer: unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Greek revival, Regionalist/Vernacular, Other (Glossary)
Significance: education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: sandstone
Walls: stone wih brick wings; interior: plaster
Roof: metal and asphalt shingles (Terncoat stainless steel)
 
Function:
ca. 1793administration
ca. 1793faculty offices
ca. 1793classrooms
ca. 1793residence hall
ca. 1793chapel
ca. 1793old main
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration
ca. 2004-present (2006)president's house
 

Narrative:
From the National Register report:

The oldest of W&J buildings and a registered historic landmark, the stately McMillan Hall was constructed between 1793-1794. It is the 8th oldest college building in continual use in the United States and the oldest college building west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The original center section, a two-story building with dimensions of 35 by 30 feet, was built in 1793 in a country-style adaptation of domestic Georgian architecture. Brick two-story wings were added in 1816. Further additions are in the Greek Revival style. According to the National Register report of 1972, "the style defies exact description. It achieves its unique quality and charm from the fact that vernacular builders selectively borrowed Georgian, Roman Classical, Adamesque, and other European Renaissance architectural forms, elements, and details and combined them in the builder's own esoteric way…[It] is basically a late Georgian masonry building, but of greater importance is the fact that it is a unique variation of a Western Pennsylvania stone building, and must be counted among the most interesting architectural remains in the district. In the latter sense, it is irreplaceable on a regional or national level."

In 1903, the building was moved back 40 feet from the original foundation and placed on a new foundation in its present location to allow construction of the Thompson Memorial Library. At present the first floor is decorated with handcrafted furnishings and paintings by the renowned American artist Wallace Nutting, who was awarded an honorary degree by W&J in 1935. These gifts were presented by Mrs. Nutting in memory of her husband in 1943. The building also contains heirlooms of the McMillan family brought to the region from Ireland in the late eighteenth century. The President's Office is located on the second floor. The Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Development occupy the remainder of the building.
 

References:

"The Archives: The Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta." Online (2006). Washington College, Washington, PA. http://www.phigam.org/history/Sites/washington_pa.htm

Coleman, Helen Turnbull Waite. Banners in the Wilderness. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1956.

Day, Sherman. Historical Collections of the State of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: G. W. Gorton; New Haven: Durie and Peck, [1843]. Reprint, Port Washington, NY: Ira J. Friedman, 1969.

Dober, Lidsky, Craig, and Associates. Washington & Jefferson College: Campus plan 2001. [Belmont, MA: Dober, Lidsky, Craig, and Associates], 2001.

Donnelly, J. B. Venerable W & J at 200. Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College, 1980.

Landmarks Flanning. Washington and Jefferson College Administration Building. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1972.

LaQuarta, Jack. Washington & Jefferson College Landscape Master Plan. Pittsburgh, PA: [s.n.], 1983.

Stotz, Charles M. Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania. New York: William Helburn, for the Buhl Foundation, 1936.

Stotz, Charles M. The Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania: A Record of Building Before 1860 Based upon the Western Pennsylvania Architectural Survey, A Project of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Architects with an Introduction by Fiske Kimball; with a New Introduction by Dell Upton. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995.

W & J: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of Washington & Jefferson College. Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College.

W & J Walker Volunteer Manual. Handbook. [Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College, n.d.].

Whiffen, Marcus. American Architecture since 1780. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1969.

 

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Last update: November 2006