Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Fournier Hall

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Institution Name: Chestnut Hill College
Original/Historic Place Name: Mount Saint Joseph College
Location on Campus: 9601 Germantown Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1928original construction Monaghan, Paul McClusky Builders
Designer: McCloskey (builders), Paul Monaghan
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete and steel
Walls: Mount Airy Granite
Roof: red terra cotta tile
1928-present (2006)residence hall (students and sisters)
1928-present (2006)chapel
1928-present (2006)dining hall
1928-present (2006)gymnasium (with pool)
1928-present (2006)classrooms

Building Magazine from February 1929 describes Fournier Hall as "one of the finest group of buildings erected for any educational institution in the entire country." The building, then known as Mount Saint Joseph College, is actually composed of five segments, all connected by corridors. The authors of the article note the particular significance of the foyer and its terrazzo floors and wood wainscoting, the Romanesque style chapel, the Dining Room that could become a dance floor, the then-modern kitchen, and the "natatorium," or Olympic swimming pool. The students' rooms, all with running water and many with complete baths, were considered especially important. In one wing was a "model apartment," where Home Economics students learned housekeeping in a very personal way.

The exterior has a portico of twelve arcs, using the theme of the Roman arch. The tympana above the doors show the Eastern Byzantine style, mixing Christian and classical images. The signs of the zodiac and the symbols of the four Evangelists, along with the mythical griffin and the College seal, adorn the West Door. Sister Mary Julia Daly, professor of art history, notes also "the serene and beautifully proportioned campanile supported by corbels in true Lombardy bands."

Although some modifications have been made to offices and auxiliary space, the building retains the same décor as when first described by Building Magazine in 1929. Fournier became the heart of the college during the time it served as the main college building. Since then, other structures have encroached upon it, but for resident students it still remains a focal point. It was here that the educational philosophy of the College developed, and students lived and learned. It holds memories of the growth and development of the College.


Chestnut Hill Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1985.

Contosta, David R. "The Philadelphia Story: Life at Immaculata, Rosemont, and Chestnut Hill." In Catholic Women's Colleges in America, edited by Tracy Schier and Cynthia Russett, 123-60. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Contosta, David R., and Carol L. Franklin. "Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley."

Kashuba, Mary Helen. Chestnut Hill College, 1924-1999: Tradition and Risk. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company, 1999.

Logue, Maria Kostka. Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia: A Century of Growth and Development , 1847-1947. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1950.

Lukacs, John. A Sketch of the History of Chestnut Hill College, 1924-1974. Chestnut Hill, PA: Chestnut Hill College, 1975.

Mark B. Thompson Associates, Architecture & Planning. Chestnut Hill College Strategic Site and Facilities Master Plan Program Report. [Philadelphia: Mark B. Thompson Associates], 1995.


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