Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Holcroft House

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Institution Name: Clarkson University
Original/Historic Place Name: The Mansion House
Location on Campus: next to campus main entrance
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1821-1822original construction Unknown
1883addition of mansard roof and third floor Unknown
1966remodeled Unknown
post- 1980restoration (to appearance in 1850) Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: sandstone
Walls: wood
Roof: wood
1821-1856private residence (Clarkson family)
ca. 1856-1880private residence (unknown)
ca. 1880-1929private residence (Clarkson family)
1940-1979residence hall
1979-present (2007)admissions office
1979-present (2007)administration

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Holcroft House, the oldest building on campus, is a symbol of the university's heritage. Built in 1821, it was first the home of John C. Clarkson, and for nearly a century served as a private residence for generations of the Clarkson family. Initially, it was called the "Mansion House," but was later renamed Holcroft after Elizabeth Holcroft, daughter of Sir Henry Holcroft, East Hampton, England, and wife of the Reverend David Clarkson. The Clarksons were the university's founding family, and the house is a tangible reminder of their legacy to the institution.

Beginning in 1940, the building was used as a university residence hall. From that time, it has served several functions, including housing to administration, admissions, and health services. The building has been renovated twice: in 1883 a Second Empire mansard roof was added to the top floor, and in the 1980s the building's interior was restored to resemble its appearance in 1850. Handsomely furnished, it now houses undergraduate admissions and is the first building that most prospective students see. While most buildings on campus are less than fifty years old, Holcroft House stands as testiment to the long history of the people who founded this institution.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Broughton, Bradford B. A Clarkson Mosaic: Bits and Pieces of Academic, Personal, Sports, and Administrative History Creating a Portrait of Clarkson University's First Hundred Years, 1896-1995. Michigan: BookCrafters, 1995.

Stillman, Donald Gale. Clarkson at 75: A Portrait of the College. Potsdam: Clarkson College of Technology, 1972.

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

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Last update: November 2006