Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Cathedral group

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Institution Name: John Brown University
Original/Historic Place Name: Memorial group
Location on Campus: southern border of campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1945-1957original construction Love, George
1983remodeled Unknown
1991-1992renovation Nabholz Construction
Type of Place: Building group
Style(s) of majority of buildings: Other: Collegiate Gothic revival elements
Style(s) of minority of buildings: Regionalist/Vernacular
Building group type: Linear; Other: in the early days of planning at the campus, the predominant layout was a central axis that culminated in the Cathedral Group. Since then, this axis has become less defined because of subsequent additions to the campus plan.
Relationship to landscape:
The Cathedral Group is considered the "welcoming" element of the campus. Located on a hill, it is the main feature at the university's entrance. The cluster of buildings are directly next to the main sidewalks of campus and it dominates one's first impressions of the place.
Ideas associated with building group:
John E. Brown Sr., the founder of John Brown University, advocated a "head, heart, and hand" approach to education. The Cathedral Group contains classrooms and what was once the original library (head), serves as the chapel and chief spiritual venue on campus (heart), and was built in large part by student labor (hand).
ca. 1949other (radio station KUOA)
1949-present (2007)theater
1949-present (2007)faculty offices
1949-present (2007)classrooms
1949-present (2007)chapel
1949-present (2007)auditorium
1949-present (2007)academic department building (art, engineering, science, music, and others)

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Cathedral Group consists of three buildings: Engineering, Art, and the Cathedral of the Ozarks. Originally envisioned in the 1930s by the university's founder as the new architectural, academic, and spiritual centerpiece of the school, it was not constructed until the 1940s. It was also intended to serve as a memorial to John Brown University students and staff who died at war. Construction progressed slowly, with university students and staff contributing to the work. The central structure, the Cathedral of the Ozarks, was not dedicated until 1957.

The cement block exterior of the buildings has never been finished, and the university is currently making plans to cover these walls with a stone facing similar to that envisioned in the original plans. Currently, the walls consist of a concrete foundation with concrete slab on a grade and the roof has a wood deck with asphalt shingles.

The interior woodwork was built by the university's furniture department from walnut harvested on campus and finished in the school's sawmill and kiln. Stained glass windows in the Cathedral contain two series of panels depicting events in the life of Christ and the history of the university.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Kennedy, Ralph C. and Thomas R. Rothrock. John Brown of Arkansas. Siloam Springs, AR: John Brown University Press, 1966.

Ostrander, Rick. Hand, Heart, and Hand: John Brown University and Modern Evangelical Higher Education. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2003.

Smith, Maggie Aldridge. Hico, A Heritage: Siloam Springs History. Cassville, MO: Willard Burton, 1976.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Other: Siloam Springs Museum

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