Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Blackstone and Harlan Halls; Durand Commons

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Institution Name: Lake Forest College
Original/Historic Place Name: Blackstone and Harlan Halls; Calvin Durand Commons
Location on Campus: Middle Campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1908construction completed Frost & Granger Shaw, Howard Van Doren
Designer: Frost & Granger (Chicago); Howard Van Doren Shaw
Type of Place: Building group
Style: Gothic revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1908dining hall
1908residence hall
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (Campus Security)
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (main hall is study hall)
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (campus bookstore)
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (old kitchen with snack bar and pool/recreation room)

Lake Forest College reorganized from a university to a four-year liberal arts college in 1903. The College program had allowed fraternities since 1895, the same year a golf club was founded west of the campus. The next year a permanent club, the Onwentsia, was established for golf, polo, tennis, fox hunting, etc. Fraternity houses for the college sprang up between the college and the club, creating a gap between the less affluent scholarship students living and eating in a dining club on campus, and the full-pay men, who lived in fraternities with a second level of services. This class division had been a formal part of Lake Forest Academy, built in 1892-1893, which retained first and second class status for boys. But in 1901 new president Richard Harlan from Princeton brought the fraternities back on campus. He did this with the support of trustee presidents Cyrus McCormick and David B. Jones, although he eventually lost his position. McCormick and Jones also supported Woodrow Wilson in his attempt to institute a similar program at Princeton in 1906-1910. The program failed, and Wilson eventually left for politics. He ran for governor of New Jersey in 1910 and president of the U.S. in 1912, winning both times.

The architecture is Collegiate Gothic, with the two dormitories a step down in the quality of materials from the Chapel to the north. The fine dining hall, built by Shaw, was elegant enough to attract the sons of Chicago merchant princes. Blackstone was funded mostly through the generosity of Mrs. Timothy Blackstone in memory of her late husband, president of the Alton Line railroad. She insisted that the other building, also her gift, be named for Harlan, to recall his sacrifice for principle.


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.

Miller, Arthur H., and Shirley M. Paddock. Lake Forest: People, Estates, and Culture. Chicago: Arcadia Press, 2000.

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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