Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Administration Building

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Institution Name: Spring Hill College
Original/Historic Place Name: "The College" (informal name)
Location on Campus: south side of Quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1869original construction Freret, William
1909-1910remodeled exterior Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: brick
Walls: brick; stucco (facing)
Roof: slate
ca. 1869residence hall (students and Jesuit faculty)
ca. 1869chapel
ca. 1869-present (2007)classrooms
ca. 1981-present (2007)other (computer centers and labs)
ca. 1981-present (2007)faculty offices
ca. 1981-present (2007)administration

Significance: culture, history, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterSpring Hill College Quadrangle (1973)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Administration Building was built in 1869 as a replacement for the original building begun by Bishop Michael Portier in 1830 and destroyed by fire on February 4, 1869 (the Jesuits had assumed administration of the college in 1847). The replacement building, erected on exactly the same location, was designed by William Freret, a New Orleans architect. Built mainly of red brick manufactured on the campus, it has concrete neo-classical elements, such as Roman arches marking the main entrances on the north and south sides. There are aspects reminiscent of the work of Thomas Jefferson: on the second and third floors there is a large domed rotunda. The lower floor of the rotunda was originally the Jesuit library and recreation area. There are bookcases constructed to fit the curvature of the walls and decorated with carved fleur-de-lis. The third floor contains a circular walk, bannistered all the way around. The walls at that level contain the gallery of the presidents, portraits of three of the seven pre-Jesuit presidents and all twenty-four of the Jesuits. It is a remarkable historic collection. The dome above (not visible from the outside) is a graceful structure containing four round windows which give excellent light. In 1909-1910 the building was covered in cream-colored stucco, presumably because the locally made brick proved porous. Much of the original brick is visible in interior walls.

Originally the building (unofficially referred to as "College") housed virtually all members of the community: Jesuit priests, seminarians, and brothers, as well as three age levels of students, housed separately: college age, high school age, and pre-high school age. There were also classrooms, chapels, and small libraries. Eventually the top two floors housed only Jesuits, with classrooms, study halls, and offices on the ground floor. In 1981 the Jesuits moved to other residences and the entire building was converted to administrative and faculty offices, classrooms and computer centers and labs. It is a well-built building and, considering its age, is in good condition.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Boyle, Charles J., ed. Twice Remembered Moments in the History of Spring Hill College. Mobile, AL: Friends of the Spring Hill College Library, 1993.

Boyle, Charles J. A Pelican's Eye View: The History of the Spring Hill College Campus. Pictorial pamphlet. Mobile, AL: Spring Hill College, 1999.

Floyd, Katherine. Spring Hill College. Historic American Buildings Survey report and photographs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/ National Park Service, 1936.

Floyd, W. Warner. Spring Hill College Quadrangle. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1973.

Kenny, Michael, Catholic Culture in Alabama (also published under the title The Torch on the Hill). New York: America Press, 1931.

Main Building [Spring Hill College]. Historic American Buildings Survey photographs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/ National Park Service, n.d.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections
Government Offices

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