Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Reid Hall and Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel

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Institution Name: Lake Forest College
Original/Historic Place Name: Arthur Somerville Reid Memorial Library and Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel
Location on Campus: Middle Campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1899-1900original construction Frost & Granger
Designer: Frost & Granger (Chicago)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Romanesque revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Walls: Bedford Indiana limestone
Roof: slate
1900-1964library (Reid Hall)
1900-present (2006)chapel
ca. 2004-present (2006)academic department building (music, religion, and education; also contains practice rooms; the lobby is used for receptions)
ca. 2004-present (2006)auditorium (rehearsal hall for the music department)
ca. 2004-present (2006)library (the education department also houses a curriculum library)

This complex was built in 1899-1900 and signaled a re-engineering of the institution from a university with graduate and Chicago-based professional programs into a more rigorous and refined four-year collegiate institution known as Lake Forest College (rather than Lake Forest University). The architects, Charles S. Frost and Alfred H. Granger, were both MIT-educated sons-in-law of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad's Marvin Hughitt. Frost also designed Chicago's Navy Pier (1916), and Granger, who also studied at the Ecole in Paris, was by the early 1920s the chair of the committee which ran the architectural competition for the Tribune Tower in Chicago. Granger also wrote a biography of architect Charles McKim (1913) and a 1933 Beaux-Arts guidebook to the Chicago area entitled "Chicago Welcomes You." Granger had worked in the Richardson office, later Sheply, Rutan, and Coolidge, and came to Chicago with the firm for the 1893 World's Fair, at which time he moved to Jenney's firm. He was Frost's partner from 1899 to 1909.

The two buildings have Richarsonian plans (the library resembles the Billings Library at the University of Vermont) and are built in the Gothic revival style, utilizing materials like those used in the new buildings for the University of Chicago. The buildings were lower than the five-story Young Hall but were of finer materials and design, reflecting the college's academic downsizing and qualitative improvement. By 1914, Lake Forest was one of five midwestern colleges ranked as Class 1 by the U.S. Bureau of Education, one of only twenty-two across the U.S.

Reid housed the library through 1964. The Chapel was the site of regular weekly or more frequent chapel services for the church-related college for the first two-thirds of the twentieth century and has hosted numerous speakers, including Adlai Stevenson and Kurt Vonnegut. In April 1919, acting president Henry Wilkes Wright opined from the pulpit that not all faculty were Bolshevists, as reported in the campus paper. Wright was president of the western branch of the American Philosophical Society at the time, which had just met for the first time since the end of World War I in Des Moines. Wright said the group advocated a return to the criticism of big business, and a crisis subsequently ensued which threatened to close or change Lake Forest to a women's college. Wright resigned in 1920 and moved to the University of Manitoba, never teaching again in the U.S. (he was apparently blacklisted). The college was saved as a co-ed institution by a group of alumni led by the Reverend Herbert Moore, president of the college from 1920 to 1942.

The chapel contains a 1902 Tiffany stained glass window at the east end of the chapel. In 1940 five Tiffany hanging lamp fixtures were installed from the Presbyterian Church, which was then remodeled in an austere Gothic revival style.


Coventry, Kim, Daniel Meyer, and Arthur H. Miller. Classic Country Estates of Lake Forest: Architecture and Landscape Architecture, 1856-1940. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003.

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.


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