Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Bedford Hall

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Institution Name: Wilkes University
Original/Historic Place Name: Residence of George R. Bedford
Location on Campus: 96 W. South St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
ca. 1876original construction Price, Bruce
1900alteration Unknown
1920salteration Innes & Levy
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: brick
Walls: polychromed brick; patterned brick
Roof: slate
1875-1967private residence
ca. 1967classrooms (and offices)
ca. 2004-present (2007)administration

Significance: architecture, culture, history
Landmark designation:
National Register
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Bedford Hall is one of a group of nineteenth-century homes built by the financial and industrial elite of Wilkes-Barre and situated along the waterfront of the north branch of the Susquehanna River. The collection of mansions along the river was unusual, occupying an area normally associated with industry and commerce, and was a result of the location of the North Branch Canal several blocks inland. The mansions in this narrow three-block strip belonged to the entrepreneurs leading the development of the anthracite coal industry in the region, which played an important role in the industrial revolution. The Bedford family, the original owners of the home, were prominent lawyers, politicians, and bankers in the region.

The house was designed by Bruce Price, a noted architect influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright who designed the vacation resort of Tuxedo Park in New York, Windsor Park Station in Montreal, and the American Surety Building in New York. Bedford Hall is the oldest of his buildings still standing. It was built in 1876, the year before his move from Wilkes-Barre to New York. It remained in the hands of the Bedford family until the death of Paul Bedford and was given to Wilkes in 1967 through his estate. The building is currently used for administrative offices.

Bedford Hall is a fine example of polychromed and patterned brick, characteristic of English High Gothic precendents such as All Saints, Margaret Street, in London. A rear addition was added about 1900, and in 1923, extensive interior renovations were made by the firm of Innes & Levy. Although the current condition of the building is fair, additional work is needed to bring it up to the standards of the other buildings included in Wilkes University's contributions to the Survey.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Andrews, Ronald L. "An Inventory of Historical Landmarks on the Campus of Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania." Typescript. July 1975. Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Andrews, Ronald L. Historic Sites Survey of Wilkes-Barre: Final Report. Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, 1979.
Cox, Harold E. The Wilkes University Historical Atlas. Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wilkes University Press, 1997.

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

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