Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Davis Administration Building

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Institution Name: Friends University
Original/Historic Place Name: University Hall
Location on Campus: 2100 W. University St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1886-1888original construction Proudfoot & Bird
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: rough hewn stone
Walls: brick (running bond); stone (quoins)
Roof: slate
1887-1890old main (for Garfield University)
1890-present (2007)auditorium (for events, chapel, and weekly Faith and Learning)
1890-present (2007)chapel
1890-present (2007)administration
1890-present (2007)other (writing center)
1898-present (2007)classrooms

Significance: architecture, education, engineering, history, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterUniversity Hall, Friends University (1971)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Davis Administration Building (originally known as University Hall) was built from 1886-1888 as the primary building for Garfield University. The university was built by the Christian Churches of Kansas and named in honor of assassinated U.S. President James Garfield, who was a friend of the University's founder, Rev. W.B. Hendryx. The opportunity to design the Richardsonian Romanesque building brought the noted architectural team of Proudfoot and Bird to Wichita, and they designed several other buildings in Wichita before moving on. Garfield University operated from 1887-1890 and then closed. The building and surrounding area was later bought by a St. Louis businessman, James Davis, and given to the Society of Friends (better known as the Quakers). Friends University began its first classes in the building in September 1898. The building was renamed after Mr. Davis in the 1920s. The University is no longer officially affiliated with the Quaker faith but is a non-denominational, Christian institution.

No expense was spared when the building was constructed, and it is a unique, landmark building in the Wichita area. In the 1970s the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the past 10 years, Friends University has spent approximately $9 million to restore the building so that it is in very good shape to serve another century of students. In addition to administration offices, the building contains a handful of classrooms. For many years the Davis building served as the building on campus where most offices were housed and classes of all disciplines took place, as well arts and athletic events. The building enjoys a cherished place in the hearts and memories of many Friends University alumni who fondly reminisce about the people and the events within its walls.

From National Register Report (1971):
It was designed in the Romanesque motif by Witchita architects Proudfoot and Bird, and magnificently constructed in brick with stone trim. The structure, which faces east, is four stories in height with a full basement and a center tower. The brick walls are of running bond construction with stone quoining at the corners. Stone bands divide the building horizontally with decorative stone treatment at the window spandrels. The roof line is defined by heavy ornate cornice resting on closely spaced brackets. The roof itself is steep-pitched and shingled. The form of the building is generally T-shaped with circular towers at the corners of the west wing and the north and south ends. Window openings are elongated rectangles; second and fourth floor windows have massive arched heads made of stone. Stone-capped buttresses separate the side windows of the west wing. The main entrance is terminated in a large circular rough-hewn stone arch. The entire building rests on a rough-hewn stone base.

The towers on the ends of the building, which had fireproofed walls of double thickness and great iron doors to prevent drafts, originally served as fire escapes. The spiral staircases in the towers have been removed and conventional fire escapes added at various points to the building's exterior. The main entrance has been changed by the addition of large glass panels and new doors. Otherwise the outward appearance is much the same as when built.

Operating on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, Friends University completed the interior of the building year-by-year as funds permitted.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Focus (Fall 1986). Friends University, Wichita, KS

Hall, Charles, and Richard Pankratz. University Hall, Friends University. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1971.

Nelson, Raymond, and Margaret Nelson. In the Shadow of the Tower, Friends University: The First 100 Years. Wichita, KS: Friends University, 1998.

Reeve, Juliet. Friends University: The Growth of an Idea.Wichita, KS: Wichita Eagle Press, 1948.

Sauders, Floyd, and Norma Souders. Friends University, 1893-1973. North Newton, KS: Mennonite Press, 1974.

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

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