North and Middle Campuses
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The campus is traversed by two major ravine systems. The north ravine separates the North from the Middle Campus. The south ravine provides the southern boundary for Middle Campus. The two converge at the east end, beyond Faculty Circle.
The campus planning relating to the North and Middle Campuses was laid out or defined by the 1856-1857 town plan for Lake Forest, registered in July 1857. This plan was the creation of landscape and cemetery designer Almerin Hotchkiss of St. Louis. According to Malcolm Cairns, this may be the earliest designed landscape in the Chicago area since Hotchkiss's Chippiannook Cemetery in Rock Island, IL, was the state's first such designed landscape. With a total area of 1200 acres, Lake Forest was larger than the earlier curvilinear plan for Llewellyn Park, NJ, and it preceded by a dozen years Olmsted's similar Riverside, IL plan. The two campuses were indeed the town center.
In 1892-1893, a full plan for the interior of the North and Middle Campuses was laid out by Ossian C. Simonds, a landscape architect. In 1897 and again in 1906, landscape architect Warren H. Manning modified and redefined the plan, in the latter case also with architect Benjamin Wistar Morris. Both Simonds and Manning were founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1899. Simond's plan for the campus is one of less than one hundred such plans surviving from about 1000 commissions, Simond's plan having been destroyed by fire. In the area he also designed Fort Sheridan (south of Lake Forest on the lake), as well as some local estates. Manning came to Lake Forest for forty springs, from 1896-1935, when his patron Cyrus McCormick Jr. was developing his Walden estate here. McCormick was president of the College Board of Trustees in 1901-1902.
Horticulturally, the landscape is significant, since the president John M. Coulter (1893-96) was a distinguished botanist. Trustee Byron L. Smith, a patron of A.E. Wilson of the Arnold Arboretum, Boston, and Wilson himself gave Coulter plants directly from China. Smith also provided plants for the development of the campus. An alumnus, Cornelius Betten '00, studied at Cornell with Liberty Hyde Bailey, returned to Lake Forest to teach, and then returned to Cornell, eventually becoming dean of faculty there.
The interior of North and Middle Campuses finally settled into the present forms in the 1960s, thanks to the work of architects Perkins and Will.
Githens, Alfred Morton. "Recent American Group-Plans Part III.- Colleges and Universities: Development of Existing Plans." The Brickbuilder 21 (December 1912): 313-16.
Lake Forest Historic District [including Lake Forest College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1978.
Schulze, Franz, Rosemary Cowler, and Arthur H. Miller. 30 Miles North: A History of Lake Forest College, Its Town and Its City of Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Turner, Paul Venable. Campus: An American Planning Tradition. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.