Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Livingston Johnson Administration Building

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Institution Name: Meredith College
Original/Historic Place Name: Administration Building
Location on Campus: The Meredith Dr.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1926original construction Unknown
1970renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: none specified
Walls: red brick; limestone (trim)
Roof: slate
ca. 1926other (Philaretian and Astrotekton Society Halls)
ca. 1926library
1926-present (2007)administration
ca. 2004-present (2007)museum (art gallery; also receptions, concerts)

Significance: architecture, culture
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

From its completion until the present day, the 77 year old Johnson Hall has been and remains the identifying entity of Meredith College. Chartered in 1891 as Baptist Female University, Meredith relocated in 1926 from its downtown campus to its current site on the western edge of the City of Raleigh. In 1931, the Board of Trustees named the administration building for one of its own, Livingston Johnson, who was said to be "the foremost Baptist of his generation."

The architecture of Johnson Hall, along with other campus structures of the same generation, offers an example of Beaux-Arts classicism in a Georgian vein, with its use of red brick, limestone trim, white painted exterior woodwork, and generally neoclassical vocabulary and proportions.

While classrooms and laboratories and libraries are essential to college life, students and faculty are at the heart of any college or university; and this particular building's significance is due not only to the people who occupy it, but also to the decisions made here--decisions that affect lives and culture of the past, present, and future.

Johnson Hall also contains the Raymond Bryan Rotunda. Built in 1926, the rotunda was originally a sunken closed area at the center of Johnson Hall. The built-in concrete seats around the sides of the wall suggest the room served as a small auditorium for informal gatherings. A 1970 renovation opened the rotunda from the first floor all the way to the dome of Johnson Hall. The floor of the sunken room has been raised, and the entire center of the building is open from the first floor all the way to the top of the dome. The rotunda functions primarily as a lobby; however, its light and wall space create an excellent art gallery, and its acoustics attract dramatic and musical performances. It has also been the site of political rallies, student protests, and news conferences.

The Georgian architecture of the Bryan Rotunda is a continuation of the exterior of the building. Columns with elaborate capitals rise on all four sides of the area, and three arches on each of the four sides are interspersed with symbolic reliefs. Each wall is inscribed with a different scripture passage, an indication of Meredith's religious heritage. While no longer affiliated with the Baptist denomination, Meredith still considers itself a Christian college.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Annual Report of Meredith College. [n.d.]. Archives, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC.

Britt, Suzanne. Images: A Centennial Journey. Raleigh, NC: Meredith College Press, 1991.

Collection of master plans. Archives, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC.

Johnson, Mary Lynch. A History of Meredith College. Second ed. Raleigh, NC: Edwards and Broughton Company, 1972.

Robinson, Carolyn C. The Vision Revisited: A History of Meredith College, 1971-1998. Raleigh, NC: Meredith College Press, 1998.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections

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