Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Distler House

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Institution Name: Franklin & Marshall College
Original/Historic Place Name: Gymnasium, Campus House
Location on Campus: College Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1891original construction Warner, James H.
Designer: James H. Warner
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: brick, concrete
Walls: brick, stucco, half-timer
Roof: slate
ca. 1891gymnasium

As Franklin and Marshall's student body, reputation, and curriculum continued to grow and change during the early twentieth century, the college recognized the need to erect new facilities to accommodate scientific endeavors, athletics, and on-campus housing. To design these new facilities the college hired Charles Zeller Klauder as architect in 1923 and challenged him to plan the future development of the school, the "new" Franklin and Marshall. The Philadelphia-born Klauder was one of the most influential designers of educational buildings, particularly on college campuses. He has erected college building across the country, including Princeton, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Colorado, University of Delaware, Yale, Chicago, Wellesley, and several others. For Franklin and Marshall, Klauder designed seven buildings, all in a Colonial Revival style: two dormitories, Dietz-Santee and Franklin-Meyran; Biesecker Gymnasium (with William C. Prichett); Hensel Auditorium; Fackenthal Laboratories; a Boiler House; and Fackenthal Pool. Klauder also prepared the first master plan to shape the college's growth.

The Klauder buildings presented a new architectural imagery to the campus. Older buildings had been designed in an array of styles: the three original structures, Goethean, Old Main, and Diagnothian, were Gothic Revival buildings; Watts de Peyster Library was an exuberant high Victorian structure of vividly contrasting colors and textures; James H. Warner introduced English Tudor elements to the design of the old gymnasium (Distler House); and C. Emlen Urban, Lancaster's first professional architect, designed the new Beaux Arts science building (Stager Hall) in 1900. On Franklin & Marshall's campus, as elsewhere, the eclecticism acceptable to an earlier generation gave way, after the triumph of the World's Columbian Exhibition of 1893, to an emphasis on architectural unity. On many campuses the new ensemble was Gothic, at others Beaux Arts classical. Franklin & Marshall, where the earliest buildings on campus were Gothic Revival, turned to the Colonial Revival.

The transformation of the college's architectural imagery was intentional. An article describing plans for Hensel Auditorium noted that "all of Franklin and Marshall's new buildings will be Colonial in architecture." During the decade when the sesquicentennial of American independence inspired a revival of interest in Georgian architecture, the Alumnus dismissed the campus's late nineteenth-century buildings as "departures from the Colonial style" and presented the newly designed structures as a "reversion" to the college's architectural roots. The Alumnus further noted that the trustees chose colonial revival architecture because they considered it "representative of the small American college."

Two other buildings, Keiper Liberal Arts and Shadek-Fackenthal Library, designed by Philadelphia architect William H. Lee, were erected in 1936 and 1937 in a Georgian Revival style similar to the structures Klauder had designed.

As the college's first planner, Klauder introduced the open or three-sided quadrangle as the organizing principle. Two of the campus spaces he designed are historically significant. The first, known today as Hartman Green, is significant because Klauder located Hensel Hall on axis with Hartman Hall and made the open space between the two buildings a character-defining landscape; the second, known today as Klauder-Apple Walk, is defined by a wall extending between two dormitories Klauder designed in 1924-1925, Franklin-Meyran and Dietz-Santee halls. The wall, with exedra and stairway, forms the southern end of an open quadrangle and marked a symbolic transition from the eclectic old campus to the comprehensively planned new college.


Dubbs, Joseph Henry. History of Franklin and Marshall College. Lancaster, PA: Franklin and Marshall College Alumni Association, 1903.

Griffith, Sally Foreman. History of Franklin & Marshall College, forthcoming (2006).

Klauder, Charles Z., and Herbert C. Wise. College Architecture in America. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929.

Klein, H. M. J. History of Franklin and Marshall College 1787-1948. Lancaster, PA: Franklin and Marshall College Alumni Association, 1952.

Klein, Frederick Shriver. Since 1787: The Franklin & Marshall College Story. Lancaster, PA: Franklin and Marshall College, 1968.

Larson, Jens Frederick, and Archie MacInness Palmer. Architectural Planning of the American College. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1933.

Leslie, W. Bruce. Gentlemen and Scholars: College and Community in the "Age of the University," 1865-1917. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992.

Schuyler, David. "The 'New' Franklin & Marshall: Charles Z. Klauder, Henry Harbaugh Apple, and Campus Design in the 1920s." Online. (1998). Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA.

Turner, Paul Venable. Campus: An American Planning Tradition. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.


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