Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Middle Path

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Institution Name: Kenyon College
Original/Historic Place Name: Middle Path
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1842original construction Douglass, David Bates
1860extension Bedell, Gregory Thurston
Designer: David Bates Douglass; Gregory Thurston Bedell
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance:
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Function:
1842-presentother (main artery for pedestrian traffic)
 

Narrative:
Middle Path was laid out and constructed by David Bates Douglass, Kenyon's third president. When Bates arrived on campus in 1841, he found the College's grounds in some disarray. A trained engineer, he set about righting the situation by creating lawns and building a gateway at the northern entrance to the main part of the campus, from which he installed a path running in a straight line to the front door of Old Kenyon, the College's most prominent building, which marked the southern end of the campus. In 1860, the path was extended northward to its full current length, from the gates to the front door of Bexley Hall, Kenyon's seminary, by Bishop Gregory Thurston Bedell, chair of the College's board.

Over the years, the campus - which is laid out along a plateau at the top of a steep hill rising from the Kokosing River valley - has grown by constructing academic, administrative, and residential buildings along the eastern and western sides of the path, giving a sense of cohesion to the whole. Architectural historian Paul Venable Turner has observed that, in developing this way, the campus owes more to the design of Williamsburg than to the design of other college and university campuses.

From anywhere on Middle Path, including the section that runs through Gambier's two-block-long downtown, there are vistas of campus buildings and landscapes. The gravel path, which remains proudly unpaved, is both a busy thoroughfare on which all members of the community mingle and a powerful symbol of Kenyon and its approach to the liberal arts.

Middle Path is in good condition along almost all of its length, regularly maintained and re-graveled. There are a few spots where water collects and a few others that have eroded slightly over time.
 

References:

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