Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Giddings Hall

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Institution Name: Georgetown College
Original/Historic Place Name: Recitation Hall
Location on Campus: head of Giddings Circle at the south end of Memorial Dr.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1838-1841original construction Farnam, J. E. or Rice, A. T.
1879minor additions Unknown
1974-1975renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: composition shingle
1841-mid 1970schapel
1841-mid 1970slibrary
1841-mid 1970sclassrooms
1841-present (2007)administration
ca. 1900theater
ca. 1900other (chemistry laboratory)
ca. 1970-present (2007)other (formal meeting room)

Significance: architecture, education, history, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterGiddings Hall, Georgetown College (1973) and Georgetown College Historic District (1979)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Giddings Hall, the most imposing and the central building of the Georgetown College campus, is a two-story, four-level (including basement and deep attic) rectangular temple-style Greek revival building with a two-story pedimented portico supported by six brick graduated columns with Ionic capitals and a deep wooden denticulated entablature that continues around the building. Brick is laid in Flemish bond on all four sides, and wide pilasters delineate the bays on all facades. The high basement is faced with large blocks of tooled stone and has regularly spaced openings following the pattern of those of the upper bays of the first and second stories. The three bays of the north and south ends have centered entrances as the central bay. Bays are separated by pilasters with wooden capitals. The double windows and Italianate-style hoodmolds were added in 1879 when the new Jackson Street-facing front of nearby Pawling Hall was constructed. Terracing and landscaping have been added in recent decades.

One is inclined to speculate that the builders intended to have the columns stuccoed and later decided against it. An 1840s oil painting of the campus by Esteria Butler Farnam, wife of mathematics professor J.E. Farnam (one of two possible designers of the building), shows the columns with applied stucco.

The building was renovated most recently in 1974 and 1975, with cleaning and repointing of the bricks. A stairwell extends from the north end of the hall to the third floor, and an elevator is located on the west side of the central hall. The large attic floor provides a large open meeting space area. Basement space is organized for location of infrastructure as well as several offices.

Recitation Hall, now known as Giddings Hall, has special architectural significance as the first, the central, the largest, and the most imposing among Georgetown College's older buildings. The very fine high style Greek Revival temple style building with a two-story portico supported by unstuccoed brick Ionic columns very early came to be the architectural statement for Georgetown College, the first Baptist college west of the Appalachian mountains, and its determination to achieve excellence in the field of higher education comparable to the well established colleges of the American East. It represented to the Baptists of Kentucky and the United States the high quality of classical, scientific, and "Baptist" education--that of training clergy for the popular American brand of education and Christian principles as interpreted by the Baptists' Philadelphia Confession of Faith with teaching and learning.

Georgetown College's exterior blends the 1838-1841 Greek Revival era of American architecture with an application of Italianate period details that rendered it as appearing up to date with postbellum decorativeness. Subsequent renovations have led to its adaptation in the present era to use as the administrative center of Georgetwon College, where the college president's and other officials' offices are located. College tradition states that Jonathan E. Farnam, professor of mathematics, drew the plans, and/or that A.T. Rice, a northern architect, drew the final design. It is said that an African-American mason laid the foundation, and that local brickmason A.L. White built the walls. Student and faculty laborers applied themselves energetically to assisting in its construction, as did their peers at other developing institutions of learning. The two-foot thick walls, hewn timber members, intermittent relieving arches in the brickwork, and meticulously organized graduated columns attest to the excellence of design and execution.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Bevins, Ann Bolton. A History of Scott County as Told by Selected Buildings. Georgetown, KY: 1981.

Fields, Carl R. A Sesquicentennial History of Georgetown College. Georgetown, KY: Georgetown College Press, 1979.

Gaines, B. O. The B. O. Gaines History of Scott County. 2 vols. Reprint, Georgetown, KY: Frye Printing Company, 1981.

Georgetown, Kentucky: A History. Georgetown, KY: Scott County Historical Society, 1993.

Kentucky Heritage Commission. Georgetown College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1979.

Meyer, Leland W. Georgetown College: Its Background and a Chapter in its Early History. Louisville, KY: Western Recorder, 1929.

Newcomb, Rexford. Architecture in Old Kentucky. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1953.

Scott County Hisorical Society and Kentucky Heritage Commission. Giddings Hall, Georgetown College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1973.

Snyder, J. Robert. A History of Georgetown College. Georgetown, KY: Georgetown College, 1979.

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

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