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Highbaugh Hall is built in the Greek Revival style, with a two story pedimented portico that was added during a 1954 renovation financed by alumnus Leroy Highbaugh. The original design was published in Hinkle, Guild and Co.'s Plans of Buildings, etc. (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1869), p. 52, as Library Hall of the Georgetown College, KY, James Bailey, Architect and Builder, Georgetown, KY. The building was described as "60 feet front, 42 feet deep, indicating that the main entrances were on the sides." Bailey's plan shows central stairs leading from each of the side entrances.
The building's basement foundation is constructed of roughly tooled limestone, while the upper walls are built of brick, all laid in running bond with contrasting joints. The long facades have five bays. Bays of the north and south facades are delineated by pilasters. The brick pediment is enclosed with molding, each having a circular louvered vent. Windows were lengthened during a campus renovation in the 1870s, at which time the Victorian Italianate front block was also added to Pawling Hall (1840s). In 1952 a general renovation of the building established a "main" entrance on the north end with a tetrastyle two-story pedimented portico with entableture, recalling that of Giddings Hall to the east.
The library/academy building provided research facilities and was also home to the college's literary and debating societies, whose plaques bearing their names, "Tau Theta Kappa" and "Ciceronian," remain over the two side entrances to the building. The building also provided classroom space for the Georgetown College Academy. The Academy was a preparatory department of the college that became an important private school for the Georgetwon and Scott County communities and an alternative to the city's and county's private schools. A number of rural families moved into Georgetown so that their children could attend the academy and college.
The rediscovery in recent years that African-American builder and designer James Bailey was involved in the design and construction of the former library and academy building gives it an important place in social history. Bailey, a free black of mixed parentage, was brought to Central Kentucky in 1826 by Minor B.R. Williams, a friend of Bailey's father, Captain Littleton Bailey of Alexandria, Louisiana. Williams had the youth educated in Cincinatti, and by 1850 James Bailey was functioning as a carpenter, builder, and apprentice to Taylor Buffington, the builder of several high style Central Kentucky and Indiana buildings.
Bevins, Ann Bolton. A History of Scott County as Told by Selected Buildings. Georgetown, KY: 1981.
Fields, Carl R. A Sesquicentennial History of Georgetown College. Georgetown, KY: Georgetown College Press, 1979.
Gaines, B. O. The B. O. Gaines History of Scott County. 2 vols. Reprint, Georgetown, KY: Frye Printing Company, 1981.
Georgetown, Kentucky: A History. Georgetown, KY: Scott County Historical Society, 1993.
Kentucky Heritage Commission. Georgetown College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1979.
Meyer, Leland W. Georgetown College: Its Background and a Chapter in its Early History. Louisville, KY: Western Recorder, 1929.
Snyder, J. Robert. A History of Georgetown College. Georgetown, KY: Georgetown College, 1979.