Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Thompson Hall

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Institution Name: Washington and Jefferson College
Original/Historic Place Name: Thompson Memorial Library
Location on Campus: Wheeling St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1903original construction Rutan & Russell
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: sandstone
Walls: brick (exterior); plaster (interior)
Roof: standing-seam metal
ca. 1903library (home of departmental and club libraries)
ca. 1903other (Walker Leisure Reading Room)
ca. 1903other (meeting place for Board of Trustees and commencement exercises held in quadrangle)
ca. 2004-present (2007)administration (offices include: Business, Registrar's, VP for Academic Affairs, VP for Student Affairs, and VP of Business and Finance)

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

When Thompson Memorial Library opened in 1905, the facility was hailed as the first true consolidation of the various departmental and club libraries scattered across campus prior to that time. The Library was given as a gift to the College by William R. Thompson of Pittsburgh as a memorial to his mother. Mr. Thompson's wife, Mary Thaw Thompson, later established an endowment fund for the library.

The elegant Library interior contained refined elements of design such as hand-laid mosaic tile floors and skylights. Thompson housed the original Walker Leisure Reading Room installed by Mrs. Walker in memory of her husband, Mr. John Walker, a friend of the College and Andrew Carnegie's personal attorney. The "Walker Room" held fine furnishings and Tiffany lamps from their Pittsburgh home and Mr. Walker's extraordinary personal library of 5,000 volumes. Contents of this room were moved to the U. Grant Miller Library in 1965.

Thompson, too, has served almost every W&J student. Among the highlights of Thompson's past is the fact that commencement exercises, weather permitting, were held in the quadrangle with the Library steps and entrance platform as stage. This stone and light colored building continued as the commencement site until the construction of the Henry Memorial Center.

Various academic and administrative offices, including the Business Office and Registrar's Office, are located within Thompson, as are the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, and the Office of the Vice President of Business and Finance.

I. Bibliographic sources:

"The Archives: The Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta." Online (2006). Washington College, Washington, PA.

Coleman, Helen Turnbull Waite. Banners in the Wilderness. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1956.

Dober, Lidsky, Craig, and Associates. Washington & Jefferson College: Campus plan 2001. [Belmont, MA: Dober, Lidsky, Craig, and Associates], 2001.

Donnelly, J. B. Venerable W & J at 200. Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College, 1980.

LaQuarta, Jack. Washington & Jefferson College Landscape Master Plan. Pittsburgh, PA: [s.n.], 1983.

W & J: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of Washington & Jefferson College. Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College.

W & J Walker Volunteer Manual. Handbook. [Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College, n.d.].

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

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