Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Faculty Circle

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Institution Name: Lake Forest College
Original/Historic Place Name: Faculty Circle
Location on Campus: Middle Campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1916original construction Shaw, Howard
1927further construction Anderson, Stanley
1938further construction Puckey & Jenkins
Designer: attr. to Howard Shaw; Stanley Anderson; Puckey & Jenkins
Type of Place: Building group
Style: Other, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Function:
1916-present (2006)other (faculty housing)
ca. 2004-present (2006)academic department building (one house contains the foreign language department)
 

Narrative:
Faculty Circle reflects the influence of local City Beautiful planning and design in the periods of its creation. The Circle fits within a 1906 plan of the campus designed by Warren Manning. It was originally designated for fraternity houses, but by 1916 this was rethought as an area for faculty residences to expand the faculty living space beyond the approximately four houses and miscellaneous apartments already available. The first four were built in 1916, with five bedrooms and two stairways on three levels and a maid's room in the attic. These buildings are attributed to Howard Shaw and resemble supervisors' houses built by the Shaw firm for Marktown, East Chicago, Indiana, a planned community adjacent to a steel mill; and their style is not unlike such places as Bourneville, England, another planned community which was the subject of a book published by Shaw. These houses were built on the north and south sides of the road into the circle on the west end. In the 1920s Stanley Anderson (Lake Forest '16) built four more houses, in English cottage style. These were compatible with the previous structures but a little more sophisticated in design and materials. Finally, after the Depression, architects Puckey & Jenkins of Chicago built four more units, this time in two duplexes, each unit smaller and more in keeping with the reduced circumstances of the area. These are Georgian or Classic, but the duplexes allow the ensemble to be consistent in massing. They look like two buildings rather than four. The City objected to duplexes due to zoning but succumbed to the argument for architectural harmony.

The twelve places also reflect an era in the life of American faculty, to some extent in general but especially locally, between the Russian Bolshevist Revolution of 1917 up to World War II. Earlier, many faculty had lived in the community, but this was an insular, conservative era when the college was an island, its faculty suspected of disloyal leanings. College patronage by the community was at an all-time low following a 1919-1920 Red Scare incident on campus. By 1938, more than half of the college's income came from endowment, and the campus economy was very much a barter economy: a place to live and sometimes board in the dining room, with a minimum of cash exchange for teaching. None of the Circle houses have a garage, the assumption being that few would have cars (commuter and interurban trains were a ten-minute walk away, stores were fifteen minutes away), even if they had a maid. From 1942 to 1961 the college president lived on the circle, reflecting the lack of community interaction and entertaining. By the 1960s, as the institution again began to thrive following the end of the McArthey era, the faculty grew, and tenured teachers were encouraged to buy homes in the community. The Circle Houses were kept for non-tenured or junior teachers. Also, in the 1950s a reception was held for neighbor Adlai Stephenson when he was a candidate for the presidency. Though they have been renovated with new kitchens and other amenities, these buildings remain as originally configured: a uniquely congenial grouping of classic English-style houses.
 

References:

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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