Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Lois Durand Hall

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Institution Name: Lake Forest College
Original/Historic Place Name: Lois Durand Hall
Location on Campus: North Campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1899construction completed Frost & Granger
Designer: Frost & Granger (Chicago)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation:
Walls: brick and Bedford limestone
Roof: slate
 
Function:
1899-1935dining hall
1899-present (2006)residence hall (women)
 

Narrative:
Lois Durand Hall is the oldest surviving example on campus designed by Frost & Granger and was completed in the same year as their Lake Forest City Hall. Its style reflects Richardsonian massing and fenestration in a Collegiate Gothic style, but in its detailing and materials is distinguished from similar buildings at the University of Chicago. Instead it resembles the residence halls of women's colleges in the east such as Smith and Mount Holyoke. The style seems to reflect the experience of Granger, the younger partner and a more recent refugee from New England. On the main level, there was originally a lounge and a large open porch at the north end, and a dining hall at the south (the latter closed in 1935).

The building tracks the progress of women in the twentieth century, from the sequestered and protected maidenhood of 1900 to the liberated, independent lifestyles of the millennium. Through it all, the building has seen little change in purpose and configuration, with the exception of converting the dining room and kitchen area into more rooms. Around 1905, Hull House founder Jane Addams spoke to the residents. Early on, the young women organized a self-governance association. When in 1916, the faculty voted to eliminate sororities, the young women organized to successfully object. Some residents won national publicity in the 1920s for confronting the parietal rules (the waiters in the 1920s dining room were handsome male students). By the 1970s, the housemothers had disappeared, along with the parietal rules, and men were informal or unofficial squatter residents, residing with significant others and presenting themselves in de facto co-ed group bathrooms. Through it all, the place remained nominally a single-sex hall with a studious tone.

Life in various eras is tracked by scrapbook collections from alumni, now in the archives, and also questionnaires from a thesis study of women on campus from 1955-1975. Like the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory, significant for its consistent tracking of the heavens over a century, the essentially unchanged Lois Hall (named for the mother of Henry C. Durand) provides a good social historical sample for studying elite or relatively privileged college women.
 

References:

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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Last update: November 2006