Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Pardee Hall

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Institution Name: Lafayette College
Original/Historic Place Name: Pardee Hall
Location on Campus: quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction:
1872original construction McArthur, John Jr.
Designer: John McArthur, Jr. (Philadelphia)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Walls: brownstone
Roof: slate
ca. 1872other (Pardee Scientific School)
ca. 2004-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)academic department building (humanities offices and classrooms)

When it opened in 1872, Pardee Hall was hailed as one of the largest collegiate buildings of its day. Its construction, funded by coal baron Ario Pardee, ushered in a new era of prosperity at Lafayette, as the new engineering program Pardee was built to house quickly become one of the defining features of the college. The building's somewhat checkered history includes two devastating fires: in 1879 an accidental fire gutted the building, and in 1897 much of it was destroyed again in a blaze set by a disgruntled former professor of mental and moral philosophy. It was rebuilt each time, with the rededication ceremony of 1881 presided over by President Rutherford B. Hayes and most of his cabinet. Architecturally the building is distinguished as the work of the architect John McArthur, Jr., designer of Philadelphia's City Hall. In the words of college architecture historian Robert Mattison, "Pardee is marked by its monumentality and austere power, particularly on the major south facade, the direction that all the college's earlier buildings faced. Its four stories rise dramatically in rough-cut, or rusticated, brownstone. The windows are segmentally arched, emphasizing the massiveness of those walls. Windows, columns, entablatures, and quoins are dramatically set off in white sandstone" (Lafayette College Architecture: in Context, 2).

Pardee Hall is probably the most recognizable building on the Lafayette campus and is even mentioned in the Alma Mater.


Mattison, Robert Saltonstall. Lafayette College Architecture: In Context. Easton, PA: Friends of Skillman Library, 1991.

Narbeth, Pamela S. "Historical Survey of the Buildings of Lafayette College." Online (2006). Lafayette College, Easton, PA.

Shear, George. Architectural Style and the Lafayette Campus. [Easton, PA: Lafayette College], 1983.

Skillman, David B. Biography of a College: Being the History of the First Century of the Life of Lafayette College. Easton, PA: Lafayette College, 1932.


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