Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Blatchley Hall

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Institution Name: Albertson College of Idaho
Original/Historic Place Name: Blatchley Hall
Location on Campus: 2112 Cleveland Blvd.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1910original construction Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: sandstone; stucco
Roof: composition shingle
1916-1928president's house
1928-1965theater (Blatchley Little Theater)
ca. 1940academic department building (basement, music department)
ca. 1940residence hall (freshman women)
ca. 1965museum (art gallery)
ca. 1984administration (alumni relations and other offices)
ca. 1984museum (art gallery expanded for space known as Rosenthal Art Gallery)
ca. 1990administration (president's offices, Board of Trustees meeting room)
ca. 2004-present (2007)museum (Rosenthal Art Gallery)
ca. 2004-present (2007)administration (offices)

Significance: architecture, education
Landmark designation:
National RegisterBlatchley Hall (1978)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Blatchley Hall was originally built as a personal residence by Henry D. Blatchley and his wife Carrie S. Blatchley. Mr. and Mrs. Blatchley were instrumental not only in the founding of the college, but also in the commercial success of the early town site. Mr. Blatchley was a successful druggist and businessman who served on the school's original board of trustees, and Mrs. Blatchley, an art historian, was one of the original faculty members when the college opened in 1891. The Blatchley's donated the structure (which was adjacent to land the Blatchley's had donated for the "new" campus) to the college in 1916 for use as the president's home. It served this purpose until 1928 (at which time another president's home was built), when an auditorium was added and the building was otherwise changed to serve the needs of the campus YWCA. The auditorium became known as Blatchley Little Theater, where dramatic productions were held until 1965. By the early 1940s, Blatchley Hall served both as a residence hall for freshmen women, and, in the basement, as the music department. After the 1960s, the Little Theater was revamped as an art gallery. In 1984 a sizable donation converted that space to the Rosenthal Gallery of Art, and the rest of the building was put to use by the Office of Alumni Relations, the Debate Team, and other administrative personnel. Beginning in the 1990s, the upper level was used for the president's office and for a board of trustees meeting room. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Today, Blatchley Hall would be easily recognizable to its original owners. The stained glass and woodwork of this classic colonial revival are exemplary and remain in pristine condition. The west façade has a two-story columned portico with a low-hipped roof and a denticulated pediment containing a terra cotta framed circular window. There is a one-and-a-half story stained glass stair landing window on the building's north side. One aspect of the original design was changed, probably in the 1950s. The columns originally had Ionic capitals, but these were removed. Campus legend attributes this desecration to a president's wife, whose motives were either to rid the school of evidence of a pagan culture, or to deprive pigeons of a perch.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Attebery, Louie W. Albertson College of Idaho: The Second Hundred Years. Caldwell, ID: Albertson College of Idaho, 1999.

Attebery, Louie W. The College of Idaho 1891-1991: A Centennial History. Caldwell, ID: Caxton Publishers, 1991.

Hibbard, Don. Blatchley Hall. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1978.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections
Government Offices

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