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Palmer Hall (1903) remains the college's largest and most important academic building. Designed by the Boston firm Andrews, Jacques and Rantoul, the hall is a fine example of Richardsonian Romanesque and ranks in the top tier of American turn-of-the-century institutional buildings. The college will begin extensive work on the hall in the fall of 2003, including repairs, restoration, and adaptive re-use.
Liberal arts colleges seek a fine balance between continuity and change, and their architecture typically reflects that balance. Palmer Hall, for example, once housed the college's science program. Today, two new buildings serve that purpose, and Palmer Hall instead accommodates the social sciences and continues to serve as a central academic building, with few apparent changes in appearance.
General William Jackson Palmer, for whom the hall was named, was a founder of Colorado College as well as the city of Colorado Springs. His railroad, the Denver and Rio Grande, brought modern commerce to Colorado Springs and the West. Choosing Colorado Springs as his home, he dedicated a portion of his wealth and energy to buildings, parks, institutions, and other amenities that served the city's population.
Palmer Hall occupies a prime spot on the northern edge of the college's historic central quadrangle. Its site interrupts Tejon Street and is therefore a prominent landmark for both city and campus. In addition to its imposing physical presence, the hall represents the new wealth available to the region from gold mining in nearby Cripple Creek, which had begun a decade before in the early 1890s. William Slocum, whose presidency during that period transformed the college, tapped the new wealth to great advantage, adding it to the considerable sums he secured from more traditional sources in the East.
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