Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project



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Institution Name: Haverford College
Original/Historic Place Name: Campus
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1835original construction Carvill, William
Designer: William Carvill
Type of Place: Campus arrangement
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history, landscape, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1850-present (2006)master plan (campus)

In 1831, a distinguished group of Philadelphia and New York Quakers purchased 198.5 acres which lay in the center of William Penn's Welsh Tract, and founded Haverford College two years later.

William Carvill was hired in 1834 to convert the farmland into a functioning campus, and he did so with great style and beauty. His design, still evident today, reflected the influence of Sir Humphry Repton, one of England's great landscape architects. Carvill's vision was agrarian and romantic in origin, focusing on the development of an English garden landscape. In the twentieth century, the campus has grown according to a geometrical model, loosely knit courtyards that open into each other, bounded by buildings of residential scale, forming the physical matrix of the campus.

Gateways act as entrances to campus, as entrances to realms and as separators of individual campus spaces. In many cases the gateway is only fragmentary or implied, so imagination is needed to visualize it.

The remains of the Carvill plan act as a buffer around the inner campus, enhancing the sense of quietude, contemplation, and isolation from disturbing outside influences. In the beginning, Friends sought to ensure that the college environment would encourage discipline, orderly conduct, and protection from distraction. This is evident in the utility and solidity afforded the construction on campus. The general approach to campus improvements has always been conservative.


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