Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Campus design / Huntingdon College Historic District

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Institution Name: Huntingdon College
Original/Historic Place Name: Campus design / Huntingdon College Historic District
Location on Campus: 1500 E. Fairview Ave.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1908initial campus design Olmsted, Frederick Law, Sr. Olmsted, Frederick Law, Jr. Olmsted, John Charles
1947update Unknown
Type of Place: Building group
Style(s) of majority of buildings: Gothic revival
Style(s) of minority of buildings: not applicable
Building group type: Irregular; Other: the campus design of the Huntingdon College Campus Historic District is representative of American campus design from the mid-nineteenth into the twentieth century. More importantly, it illustrates the campus design practices of the Olmsted Brothers firm. The landscape plan possesses a visually commanding building (Flowers Hall) and a centrally located open green space, and reflects an emphasis on the pedestrian grounds and on the design of an intimate educational setting which was central to the planning and design of Olmsted campuses in the mid-19th century.
Relationship to landscape:
none specified
Ideas associated with building group:
none specified

Significance: architecture, landscape
Landmark designation:
National RegisterHuntingdon College Campus Historic District (2000)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Huntingdon College began operations in 1854 as the Tuskegee Female Institute, a Methodist liberal arts school for young women in Macon County, AL, and moved to its present location in 1909-1910. Currently located in Montgomery, AL, Huntingdon College is one of the state's oldest institutions of higher learning, placing emphasis on the liberal arts.

The significance of the original campus plan is that it illustrates the campus design philosophy of the mid 19th to early 20th centuries, specifically those of its designers, the prominent Olmsted Brothers firm, the preeminent American landscape architecture firm of this time period. "Between 1857 and 1957, the firm…produced designs for nearly 5800 projects in forty-eight states and seven foreign countries" (memo to Melanie Betz from Anne Henderson dated November 30, 1992).

Members of the Olmsted family were the landscape architects for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and the Great Mall in Washington, D.C. The firm's work includes master plans for most of the nation's best known colleges and universities, including Stanford and Duke Universities.

The grounds of the Huntingdon College campus still reflect the design plans proposed by the Olmsted Brothers firm in 1908 and 1947. Construction on the campus continued through the decades, slowing somewhat during the 1930s and recommencing after the end of World War II (Rhoda Coleman Ellison, History of Huntingdon College: 1854-1954 [Birmingham: University of Alabama Press, 1954], 208, 213, 215). Every effort was made to preserve the original landscape plan, while adding buildings and other facilities necessary to meet the growing needs of the College.

The campus boasts an extraordinary collection of collegiate architecture in the Gothic revival and Tudor revival styles. These buildings are among the most significant examples of the style in Montgomery, and perhaps even the state of Alabama.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Ellison, Rhoda Coleman. History of Huntingdon College: 1854-1954. Birmingham, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1954.

Enzweiler, Susan, and Trina Binkley. Huntingdon College Campus Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 2000.

Memorandum to Melanie Betz from Anne Henderson, November 30, 1992. Montgomery, AL: Alabama Historical Commission.

Olmsted, Frederick Law, Jr. Report on Methodist College for Women, Montgomery, Ala. [Brookline, MA: Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects], 1908.

II. Location of other data:
Government Offices

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