Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Walton Hall

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Institution Name: Eastern University
Original/Historic Place Name: Mansion House of Charles S. Walton Estate
Location on Campus: Center of Campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1913original construction Boyd, D. Knickerbacker
Designer: D. Knickerbacker Boyd
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Mission/Mission revival, Regionalist/Vernacular (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: unknown
Walls: rough stone
Roof: tile
 
Function:
ca. 1913private residence (of Charles S. Walton and family)
ca. 2004-present (2006)student union
ca. 2004-present (2006)dining hall
ca. 2004-present (2006)chapel
 

Narrative:
The 125'x60' frame of the Mansion House (Walmarthon) did not convey the building's full presence. It spanned 216 feet from the northwest porch to a servants' veranda on the southwest corner, and extended more than the length of a football field, 342 feet, from the back wall of the patio to the bottom of the front steps at the edge of manmade Willow lake. Two wings, each built at a 45 degree angle on opposite sides of the central section, produced a total mass which contained 55 rooms, including 5 lavatories and 8 baths. It was a house of eleven gables. The background framing of tall trees, with a wooded slope descending from the structure to the lake, presented each visitor with an imposing first view. The massive 18 inch walls and heavy tile roof conveyed an unmistakable air of permanence and stability. Five quaint chimneys, selected windows of lead glass, and imaginative ornamental medallions typified the verve and vigor of the architect. Tile works were provided by Henry Mercer, famed for his historic collections and buildings in Harrisburg, PA. The 42 steps of the grand stairway and both landings, along with twin marble Corinthian columns, flanked the bottom of the central flight going from the first floor to the upper landing. A pair of Ionic columns concluded the stairway on the second floor. The upper landing featured leaded glass windows on the back wall overlooking the patio, a sanctuary niche, and a cylindrical chandelier hung in the center. The Mansion House and similar buildings on the Eastern University campus are significant because they introduce a new and unique style of architecture to the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Charles S. Walton, Jr. played a significant role in the formation of the College as one of its founding trustees. He hosted many important political and religious leaders and large community events at Walmarthon.

In 1918 the Mansion and grounds provided the location for a silent film by Sigmond Lubin entitled "Oh, Johnny!" starring Louis Bennison and Virginia Lee and directed by Ira Lowry.
 

References:

Baird, John. Great House. St. Davids, PA: Eastern College, 1984.

 

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