Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Voorhees Hall

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Institution Name: Albertson College of Idaho
Original/Historic Place Name: Voorhees Hall
Location on Campus: 2112 Cleveland Blvd.
Date(s) of Construction:
1912original construction Soule, F. H.
1959remodeled Hummel, Jones & Sawyer
Designer: F. H. Soule; Hummel, Jones & Sawyer (Boise, ID)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Colonial revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: concrete
Walls: brick
Roof: composition shingles (original), built up (remodel)
 
Function:
ca. 1912academic department building (chemistry laboratory)
ca. 1912residence hall (men's)
ca. 2004-present (2006)residence hall (co-ed)
 

Narrative:
Voorhees Hall (1912) was the college's first residence hall for men, not only on the "new" campus but since the school was founded in 1891. Prior to 1912, single male students boarded with townsfolk. Because space was at a premium on the new campus, a basement room in Voorhees Hall was put into service as a chemistry lab.

Ralph Voorhees (1838-1907) and his wife Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees (1841-1924) supported colleges whose missions included furthering the cause of Christian education. Dr. William Judson Boone, the college's first president, called on the couple at their New Jersey home on numerous occasions during fundraising trips "back East" (Boone was a Pennsylvania native). He always made his visits to report on the progress being made at his school in Idaho. (Asking for money outright made Dr. Boone very uncomfortable.) When Mrs. Voorhees made her gift, there were no strings attached other than to use the money to build a residence hall for men. The list of schools receiving major donations from the Voorhees family is quite extensive, and includes Rutgers, Coe, Bloomfield, and Carroll. We believe The College of Idaho is the western-most school on the list.

The Neoclassic façade of the original building, with three Doric columns highlighting the main entry with its peaked entablature, was a handsome addition to the campus. The addition of Voorhees Hall provided the campus with both symmetry and balance: the central administrative and classroom building, Sterry Hall, was now flanked by the women's residence, Finney Hall on the southeast, and Voorhees Hall on the northwest, all three facing the arterial thoroughfare, Cleveland Boulevard, with its newly completed Interurban Trolley line.

The treatment of the main-level windows arched red bricks with an accenting white keystone was adopted as a unifying architectural theme in many subsequent campus buildings. This is the most important architectural detail on the entire campus.

The remodel design (1959) retained two of the original columns on the entry, but these were centered between two added brick columns. The roof was flattened to match the colonial style of Finney Hall, the women's residence hall remodeled the previous year. The red bricks on both buildings were painted white as part of the colonial theme. The decision to paint the bricks would come back to haunt the college.

By the 1980s, during the presidency of Arthur DeRosier, the white paint was sandblasted off (inevitably compromising the original surface of the bricks). The three original buildings once again have matching red brick walls, but the long-term fate of the sandblasted bricks remains to be seen.

The cultural tradition of the structure was not compromised, however. For decades hall residents--starting in 1961, both men and women--have been known as "Vorheesians," a title that evokes both the pride of the original donors and the abiding romance of "Star Trek." Voorheesians obey the law of gravity, but grudgingly.
 

References:

Attebery, Louie W. Albertson College of Idaho: The Second Hundred Years. Caldwell, ID: Albertson College of Idaho, 1999.

Attebery, Louie W. The College of Idaho 1891-1991: A Centennial History. Caldwell, ID: Caxton Publishers, 1991.

Vorhees, Oscar M. Ralph and Elizabeth Rodman Voorheesm, a Tribute. New York: Tribute Press, 1927.

 

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