East Campus (Jackson House, Lennox House)
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The East Campus, a three-block neighborhood of turn-of-the-century homes contiguous with the campus, was added to the college's acreage in the 1980s and early 1990s. Named simply the "East Campus," the addition stands as a fine example of college/community collaboration simultaneously meeting college space needs and preserving a significant number of historic residences.
Needing room to expand but faced with a land-locked campus, the college followed the advice of campus designer Richard Dober and began buying property along Nevada and Weber Streets, east of the campus. By 1990 the college owned 60 homes; only a handful remain to be purchased. Initially, the college intended to raze the houses in order to build much-needed playing fields. One administrator proposed that the college, "Demolish the houses, cover the whole place with astroturf, and install stadium lighting." However, the president of the Colorado Historical Society (and the state's preservation officer) suggested another solution: vacate the alleys, remove garages, bury utilities, develop playing fields in the middle of each block, and keep the houses for student and faculty residences--perhaps some space for offices, seminar rooms, and campus organizations as well. In other words, create an academic village compatible with both the historic neighborhood and the college's traditional program.
The project got underway with a historic preservation plan funded in part by a new Historical Fund operated by the Colorado Historical Society. A survey done by outside experts assessed all of the college's historic architecture (of the college's 86 buildings, 70 were named historic--81% of the total) but concentrated on documenting the new East Campus buildings. With additional grants and expertise, the college developed design guidelines and a master plan coordinated with neighboring homeowners and the city. Working with both entities, the college entered a long process for city approval. The Master Plan for the East Campus was adopted by the city in 1997.
With additional state grants and several hundred thousand dollars in college funds, work on the East Campus began. A few original residents remain in their houses, and a few commercial tenants occupy the spaces they had earlier. Gradually, and following historic preservation design guidelines, the buildings are being renovated and used as fraternity houses, college services facilities, faculty residences, and a variety of other functions. Landscaping and maintenance have been improved. A new playing field now occupies the interior of one residential block, and a second, similar field is planned for another block. The East Campus will be a multi-million-dollar, on-going project with high visibility and intensive use.
Of the 60 East Campus properties, 46 were deemed historically significant in the historic preservation survey. These include two mining-era mansions that have been used for small dormitories (one, Lennox House, is on the National Register of Historic Places). Roughly half of the East Campus houses were already on the National Register as part of the Weber-Wahsatch Historic District.
As to the architectural styles, this precinct of 60 residences is eclectic, similar to neighborhoods of this era all over the country. There are variations of English Vernacular and Neoclassical expressed in every building size from small cottages to three-story dwellings. All are wood though some were stuccoed over later. Most are built on a standard subdivision lot with regular setbacks from the street and large back yards. Garages (most have been removed) were at the back. Many of the houses have substantial front porches; a few have period iron fences. Landscaping comprises ash, elm, and silver maple trees in addition to conifers, especially spruce. Many of these plantings are past their prime or dying and are being replaced.
Colorado College is very proud of this project, which fits the college's needs, its programs, and its values. Already, the work has been twenty years in the making, counting the acquisition of properties in the mid-1980s. East Campus fits the college's on-going practice of balancing continuity and change. The three-block area honors tradition in a palpable fashion but also offers great flexibility for the future.