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July 13, 2011


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But for two regretful buildings that houses our cafeteria & science departments and were probably built in 197X, Hollins University has lovely (Southern) integrated architecture, including our relatively new library.

I've been thinking about my alma mater a lot as I've read your posts from the surrounding (formerly men's) schools.


W&L's law school building (the early 1970's brutalist/modernist Sydney Lewis Hall) was inspired by UNC-CH's then state of the art law school building, Van Hecke-Wettach (sp?) Hall. The W&L dean at the time -- Roy Steinheimer I believe -- loved the new modern building in Chapel Hill and somehow convinced the powers that be at W&L (backed, no doubt, by modern art lover and collector -- and major donor -- Sydney Lewis) to echew the beautiful federal style architecture of W&L's main campus. Just as UNC folks can agree that Van Hecke-Wettach is now a monstrosity, so too W&L folks view Lewis Hall as similarly horrendous (both from the outside, at least, and when compared to the rest of their respective campuses).

Alfred Brophy

Mink-Heel -- that's an awesome story. No wonder I felt at home there! Alabama's law school building from the mid-1970s is quite similar, too -- clearly there was a style to the southern law school building circa 1970-1980.

Am I right in thinking that the law school building and the main library at W&L are really the only two buildings that depart from the general 19th century style of the campus? I get that the Lee Chapel has a somewhat different feel from the colonnade -- but still very nineteenth century.

Kate--I've not yet been to Hollins, though I'd like to take that campus in soon.


Perhaps it's just a campus legend, but most of Vanderbilt's buildings in the central campus are of a very particular red-brick, Victorian/Gothic style, except for one, with a white-stoned, castellated thing going on. The story is that Vandy and Duke were using the same architects on projects at the same time, and that the Duke stones were delivered to the Vandy campus. Rather than endure the expense of the mistake, they just built the Duke building in Nashville. I have no way of knowing if this is just fodder for campus tours, but that building does stand out quite.

Go 'Dores.


It's Furman Hall, and I haven't found anything to substantiate my story after 10 whole minutes on the internet.

Alfred Brophy

JRB -- That would have cost a truck-load of money to get the stones from Durham to Nashville (or vice versa)!

All of this reminds me, though, of another question I might pose to faculty: how many campuses have cemeteries (or at least people buried on them)? Isn't one of Vanderbilt's chancellors is buried near the center of your campus (Garland, no?). I'm interested in Chancellor Garland for other reasons -- his time at Alabama and Randolph Macon before that and his time as a student at Hampden Sidney. But that's a story for another time. During my visit to W&L I heard that only two, I think, people are buried on campus -- a major donor, John Robinson, and the General, of course. And VMI has several cadets killed at New Market.


Georgetown has a sizable cemetery smack in the middle of campus. I was told that monks are buried there.


Rhodes College in Memphis has extremely unified architecture - collegiate gothic stone buildings, slate roofs. I believe the stone all comes from the same place (I forget where), and the builders use an algorithm to create random placement of shapes/colors of stone. Sewanee (Univ. of the South) is similar, although it might have a little more variety.

For a different part of the world, I think the University of Colorado is remarkably consistent for a school of its size.

Williams College (like the other New England colleges I know) does NOT have especially unified architecture, but it has a cemetery on campus.


Yes, Vandy has tombs in the central campus, the Bishops' Commons:

(Al, I love your posts, by the way. You're interested in things that interest me, and I'm glad you take the time to write about it.)


(See slide 09 for the tombs...)

Alfred Brophy

Shouldbe--good to know about Rhodes and Sewanee. Haven't been to either, yet, though I'd love to take both of them in on my next trip to Tennessee. Colorado has a wonderfully unified campus, doesn't it. And good to know about Williams' cemetery and Georgetown's, too -- this sounds like there's a lot to be done with college cemeteries.... Northeastern schools seem to be not so good on unified architecture -- though they often have really beautiful settings.

JRB--thanks for the kind words -- love that picture of the graves on Vanderbilt's campus. I'm vaguely remembering that Chancellor Garland's grave is right near there.


Duke actually has different campuses with unique architectural styles. The original campus, now "East campus," represents the red Georgian southern style mentioned in earlier posts. The central & "West" campuses are the widely recognized neo-gothic (ala Yale, parts of Swarthmore) architecture. The interesting fact is that the "newer" (i.e. Western) campus tries to look older than the "old" eastern part. This is cited by many who want to put Duke down as an institute of new money. Looking at the law school & business schools, their complexes are relatively new and they both try to match the beige stone of the gothic campus. This organization "works" in a sense, because the east campus is itself contiguous and distinct from the more sprawling gothic wonderland.

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