Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Gest Center

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Institution Name: Haverford College
Original/Historic Place Name: Gymnasium, laboratory
Location on Campus: rear of Founders Hall
Date(s) of Construction:
1850original construction Miiles, William
Designer: William Miles
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Regionalist/Vernacular (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: fieldstone
Walls: rubble, barn-dashed stucco
Roof: slate with copper fittings
ca. 1850gymnasium
1850-present (2006)classrooms

Gest Center was the first addition to Founders Hall and thus is a key piece of the College's history. A two story, six register building much like the form of a contemporary mill building, the construction of a "playhouse" in frame was contemplated in 1850, and an agreement was made with the builder for exercise "during the inclement weather" in September. Two years later the students had raised over $300 for equipment, and William Eyre put in a new floor. A laundry was placed on the first floor, and the College's first laboratory and lecture hall were placed on the second floor.

In 1878, extensive renovations were made to the laboratory and lecture room on the second floor, including new ventilation and reinforcement of the floor. Addison Hutton consulted on extensive alterations to the gymnasium floor in 1881.

After the construction of the Hall Building in 1910, money was raised for the adaptation of the laboratory spaces in 1911. The industrial past of Gest is symbolic of when Haverford announced that it would pursue education in the modern world and use applied knowledge in the here and now.

Thanks to a bequest by Margaret Gest, the annex was adapted as the Gest Center for Cross-Cultural Study of Religion, opened in 1977. Guest public lectures help to bring the campus and the community closer. The activities at Gest help make not only world religion but all the humanities a central and vital part of education at Haverford.


George E. Thomas Associates, Inc. Haverford College Historic Resources Campus Survey. Philadelphia: George E. Thomas Associates, 1999.

Kammerstein, Gregory, ed. The Spirit and the Intellect: Haverford College, 1833-1983. [Haverford, PA: Haverford College, 1983].


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Last update: November 2006