Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Bemis Hall

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Institution Name: Colorado College
Original/Historic Place Name: Bemis Hall
Location on Campus: 920 N. Cascade Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1908original construction Biscoe, Maurice
Designer: Maurice Biscoe
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: ignimbrite stone (Colorado volcanic rock)
Roof: slate shingles
ca. 1908-present (2006)residence hall

Bemis Hall (1908), named for benefactor Alice Bemis Taylor, was designed by Denver architect Maurice Biscoe in the Tudor Revival style. Like several nearby buildings, it was constructed of ignimbrite, a Colorado volcanic rock. Community and college founder William Jackson Palmer contributed to the hall's construction, aiding the college as he had done earlier with Cutler and Palmer halls. Bemis Hall was part of the college's continuing effort to offer safe, attractive quarters for its women students and to include amenities, such as a central lounge, that made the living experience sociable and pleasing. Coeducational from its founding in 1879, Colorado College built several dormitories at the turn of the century to house its women students. On-campus housing for out-of-town women protected them from external threat but also helped them resist the temptations of the world.

Bemis Hall faces a residential quadrangle just west of the main quad (Armstrong Quadrangle) that includes Ticknor, McGregor, and Montgomery halls. This residential precinct, still intact, reflects the college's ties to the traditions of New England and to the examples set by Oxford and Cambridge universities in England.

Bemis has a handsome lounge lined with wood paneling and ceiling beams that is used by women residents and for special college events. An adjoining dining room has a high vaulted ceiling rising two stories that is braced with Gothic wooden beams. High windows line three walls of the dining area. This room has long been a favorite campus dining room and is used for many special occasions.

In the late 1990s the college replaced the hall's deteriorating slate roof, a project funded in part by a grant of nearly $300,000 from the Colorado Historical Fund. The college matched the grant with more than $1 million of its own funds.


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