Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Kirby Hall of Civil Rights

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Institution Name: Lafayette College
Original/Historic Place Name: Kirby Hall of Civil Rights
Location on Campus: Sullivan Rd.
Date(s) of Construction:
1929-1930original construction Warren & Wetmore
Designer: Warren & Wetmore (New York)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Walls: limestone
Roof: tile
1930-present (2006)academic department building (government and law)

Constructed just before the economic collapse of the Great Depression, Kirby Hall was reported by the New York Times to be the most expensive building per square foot in America. Indeed its donor, Wilkes-Barre entrepreneur Fred Morgan Kirby, intended it to be one of the most outstanding collegiate buildings in the country. In what he has called the embodiment "of Fred Kirby's belief in American Constitutional law and in the capitalist system," Robert Saltonstall Mattison claims in his book Lafayette College Architecture: In Context that Kirby Hall participates fully in the Beaux-Arts idea of the pedagogical power of architecture. Designed by the prestigious New York City firm of Warren and Wetmore, architects of Grand Central Station and other New York landmarks, the building offers numerous references to ancient Rome, the Renaissance, and 17th-century England. The elaborate ornamentation includes decorative sculpture, carved inscriptions, and symbolic ironwork. The interior of Kirby Hall, with its grand travertine lobby and splendid oak carved library, is the artistic equal of its exterior.


Gaines, Thomas A. The Campus as a Work of Art. New York: Praeger, 1991.

Mattison, Robert Saltonstall. Lafayette College Architecture: In Context. Easton, PA: The 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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