Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


McKelvy House

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Institution Name: Lafayette College
Original/Historic Place Name: Oakhurst
Location on Campus: 200 High St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1888original construction McKim, Mead & White
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: none specified
Walls: granite; wood (shingles)
Roof: slate
ca. 1888private residence
ca. 2004-present (2007)residence hall (home of the College Scholars Program; student residence)

Significance: architecture, education
Landmark designation:
National RegisterCollege Hill Residential Historic District (1991)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Designed by America's pre-eminent architectural firm, McKim, Mead & White, McKelvy House, or "Oakhurst" as it was originally named, was built in 1888 as a wedding present from John Eyerman, a Lafayette college graduate and faculty member, to his bride Lucy Maxwell. College architecture historian, Robert Mattison, writes in Lafayette College Architecture: in Context that the house "exemplifies Stick and Shingle architecture. Its overwhelming scale is belied by its asymmetrical design and by its varied use of materials--dark and light granite, shingles and slate. The granite is deliberately uneven to give the house an earthy and homemade feeling, like a Yankee stone wall." Other signature McKim, Mead & White features include elaborate wood paneling, a central hearth, and a circular porch pavilion. The house, well sited on three acres overlooking the Delaware River, once boasted formal Italian gardens with a reflecting pool. In 1914, the family of Francis G. McKelvey, a Lafayette college trustee, purchased the property and made extensive additions and several alterations. Lafayette College acquired the three-story, 22-room residence in 1960 and made it the home of the newly-formed College Scholars society, a program for academically talented students chosen by the faculty to live and work in the intellectual environment fostered in the house.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Jones, Thomas E. College Hill Residential Historic District [Lafayette College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1991.

Mattison, Robert Saltonstall. Lafayette College Architecture: In Context. Easton, PA: Friends of Skillman Library, 1991.

Narbeth, Pamela S. "Historical Survey of the Buildings of Lafayette College." Online (2006). Lafayette College, Easton, PA.

Shear, George. Architectural Style and the Lafayette Campus. [Easton, PA: Lafayette College], 1983.

Skillman, David B. Biography of a College: Being the History of the First Century of the Life of Lafayette College. Easton, PA: Lafayette College, 1932.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Government Offices

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