Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Central Quadrangle

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Institution Name: Colgate University
Original/Historic Place Name: Central Quadrangle
Location on Campus: Central Quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction:
1826original construction (West Hall)
1834original construction (East Hall)
1859-1862original construction (Alumni Hall)
1885original construction (Hascall Hall)
1905original construction (Lathrop Hall)
1916-1918original construction (The Chapel)
1926original construction (Lawrence Hall)
Type of Place: Building group
Style: Federal, Colonial revival, Italianate, Romanesque revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1826-present (2006)other (academic, ceremonial and residential center of the campus)

The Central Quadrangle is defined on its south side by the three principal early structures of the campus: East Hall (1834), West Hall (1826) and Alumni Hall (1859-1862). In 1885, Hascall Hall was set at right angles toward the east end of that line of buildings. The construction of Lathrop Hall in 1905 and Lawrence Hall in 1926 established the north side. The Chapel (1916-1918) closes the west end and, by virtue of its cupola, both anchors and symbolizes the campus in the landscape. The architectural interest of the quadrangle is the manner in which the use of relatively consistent stone and simple details gives the campus a sense of strong architectural identity that absorbs the vernacular, Italianate, and federal revival structures.

The contribution of the Central Quadrangle to the whole campus is one of focus and contrast. The Quadrangle gives the campus a relatively intimate and symbolically laden central focus in which many of the important ceremonies (initially religious and secular and now largely secular) of the institution are played out. At the same time, the closure of the Central Quadrangle makes the expansive informality of the remainder of the campus, and especially the lower campus, especially eloquent.

The emergence of the orthogonal disposition of structures in the quad influenced campus plans of the 1920s through the 1940s (none of which were implemented beyond the construction of a parallel residential quadrangle on the south side).


The Colgate University Centennial Celebration: 1819-1919. Hamilton, NY: Colgate University, 1920.

Williams, Howard. A History of Colgate University, 1819-1969. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1969.


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Last update: November 2006