Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Palmer Hall

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Institution Name: Rhodes College
Original/Historic Place Name: Palmer Hall
Location on Campus: Phillips Ln.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1925original construction Klauder, Charles Z. Hibbs, Henry
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: stone
Roof: slate
ca. 1925library
ca. 1925-present (2007)classrooms
ca. 1925-present (2007)administration
ca. 2004-present (2007)faculty offices

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

Rhodes College possesses one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. And it is one of the very few established American colleges that has faithfully maintained its original architectural program. The Collegiate Gothic style ordained for the new campus of Southwestern Presbyterian University at Memphis has been championed for more than six decades with a consistency short of phenomenal.

The college's physical presence is a monumental and inescapable factor of its identity, for the school's history and philosophy are embodied in its architecture. The buildings that define this special place also make Rhodes College an American masterpiece.

Palmer Hall, Neely Hall, and Kennedy Hall are among the first buildings built on the Rhodes campus when the college moved to Memphis in 1925 and represent beautiful examples of the English Collegiate Gothic Style of Architecture. All subsequent buildings including the Burrow Library (1951) have been constructed in the same style. In total, 13 buildings and sites on the campus are included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dr. Charles Diehl, the President leading the move to Memphis from its original (1848) home in Clarksville Tennessee said it best. "Genuineness is characteristic of the heart of this institution, and we wanted this note sounded everywhere, even in the construction of the physical plant. It was to be enduring…it was to be beautiful… it was to be genuine throughout…it is a source of satisfaction to know that our architectural ideal has been realized."

Succeeding generations of architects, planners, trustees and administrators have maintained this style of architecture to the present day with a physical plant now exceeding over a million square feet. Even in the 21st century, the college is maintaining its unique architecture with the current construction of a new modern 110,000 square foot Paul Barret, Jr. Library. (This account is excerpted from William Morgan's Collegiate Gothic, The Architecture of Rhodes College [Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press,1989], 2).

I. Bibliographic sources:

Cooper, Raymond W. Southwestern at Memphis 1848-1948. Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1949.

Hanbury, Evans, Wright, and Vlattas, and Company, Architects. Rhodes Master Plan 2010. [Norfolk, VA: Hanbury, Evans, Wright, and Vlattas, and Company, Architects, n.d.].

Morgan, William. Collegiate Gothic, The Architecture of Rhodes College. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1989.

Rhodes 150, 1848-1998: a Sesquicentennial Yearbook. Little Rock, AR: August House Publishers, 1998.

Roper, James E. Southwestern at Memphis 1948-1975. Memphis, TN: Southwestern at Memphis, 1975.

Strode, William. Rhodes College. Louisville, KY: Harmony House Publishers, 1985.

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

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