Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Clifford Place

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Institution Name: Kenyon College
Original/Historic Place Name: Clifford Place; Neff Cottage
Location on Campus: 102 Ward St.
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1850-1860original construction
Designer: unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Other (Glossary)
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: frame
Roof: slate; asphalt shingle
ca. 1850-1888private residence (Peter Neff family)
ca. 1888-1950other (rooming house, fraternity house, college offices)
ca. 1950-present (2006)other (home of the Dean of Students)

Clifford Place (sometimes called Neff Cottage or the Dean's House) was built by Peter Neff, a member of Kenyon's Class of 1849, between 1850 and 1860. Named for Neff's daughter, the house occupies a prominent place near the entrance to the campus and enjoys sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. While the architect of the house is unknown, the cottage-style dwelling resembles drawings in pattern books of the era. Because the house was built at a time when the architect William Tinsley was at work on campus, it seems possible that he, too, might have contributed to its design. Neff, who lived in the house until 1888, was a benefactor of the College, donating an achromatic telescope and other instruments that were once used in the observatory that crowns the central tower of Ascension Hall. Neff also engaged in a famous quarrel with the College over the tolling of the Cambridge chime from the bell tower of the Church of the Holy Spirit, which he claimed had driven him to the brink of nervous collapse.

After passing from the ownership of the Neff family, Clifford Place was used at various times as a rooming house, fraternity lodge, and Kenyon office building. For the past five decades, it has served as the home of the College's dean of students.

The building's current condition is good. It was remodeled in 1936 (at which time some anachronistic windows were added to an ell), and a garage with an aberrant roof pitch was added to the rear in the early 1990s, but the historic front portion remains little changed.


Borchers, Perry E. Peter Neff Cottage [Kenyon College]. Historic American Buildings Survey report and photographs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1959.

Greenslade, Thomas Boardman. Kenyon College: Its Third Half-Century. Gambier, OH: Kenyon College, 1975.

Kidney, Walter C. Historic Buildings of Ohio. Pittsburgh: Ober Park Associates, 1972.

Siekkinen, George. Kenyon College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1975.

Smythe, George Franklin. Kenyon College: Its First Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1924.

Stamp, Tom. "This Will Do." Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin 22, no. 1 (Spring 2000).


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Last update: November 2006