Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Victorian houses (Admissions House and President's House)

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Institution Name: Washington and Jefferson College
Original/Historic Place Name: Victorian houses (Admissions House and President's House)
Location on Campus: Wheeling St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1892original construction; President's House Unknown
1894original construction; Admissions House Unknown
Type of Place: Building group
Style(s) of majority of buildings: Other: Queen Anne; Shingle style
Style(s) of minority of buildings: not applicable
Building group type: Informal
Relationship to landscape:
none specified
Ideas associated with building group:
none specified
1892-1944private residence (President's House)
1894-1936private residence (admissions office)
ca. 1936other (Piatt funeral home was admissions office)
ca. 2004-present (2007)president's house (also contains guest rooms)
ca. 2004-present (2007)admissions office

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Admissions House
Acquired by W&J in 1984, this three-story Victorian mansion was built in 1894 as the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Happer and has long been intertwined with the College by virtue of its location and association. Andrew Happer enrolled in Washington College in 1859. His studies were interrupted by the Civil War, however, and he never received a degree from the College which now owns his home.

In 1936, the Piatt family purchased the house and converted it into a funeral home. They remodeled the building extensively in 1950, enclosing several sun porches, while retaining all the charm and detail that make the home an architectural gem. The exterior of Missouri sandstone and frame features ornate trimmings and stained glass windows typical of the high-Victorian style of architecture. The interior woodwork was converted in St. Louis, Missouri, and transported to Washington by railcar. The original parquet floors, massive carved staircase and brass trimmings are still intact and contribute to the showplace qualities of the home. The purchase of this 28-room structure helped to consolidate the South Campus area.

The President's House
Built in 1892 by the Duncan family, this fascinating Victorian mansion was presented to the college in 1944 by Walter Hudson Baker, class of 1907, in memory of his wife, Amy Duncan Baker. Because it is a superior example of Queen Anne Victorian style, this house was included in a book of regional architecture by the local History and Landmarks Foundation. Typical of the era are the ornate, generous, exterior "gingerbread" details, the stained, leaded, and beveled glass, and the recessed doors and windows with louvered wooden shutters. The house consists of seventeen rooms with a central hallway plan. The mansion has been the home to the college's presidents since 1944.

W&J has also converted four Victorian-era homes and a carriage house into residence halls. Wheeling I was originally built by attorney William S. Parker. It was obtained by the college in 1989 and converted to a student residence hall. Wheeling II, Wheeling III, and Wade Hall provide students with alternative living spaces on the periphery of campus.

I. Bibliographic sources:

"The Archives: The Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta." Online (2006). Washington College, Washington, PA.

Coleman, Helen Turnbull Waite. Banners in the Wilderness. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1956.

Dober, Lidsky, Craig, and Associates. Washington & Jefferson College: Campus plan 2001. [Belmont, MA: Dober, Lidsky, Craig, and Associates], 2001.

Donnelly, J. B. Venerable W & J at 200. Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College, 1980.

LaQuarta, Jack. Washington & Jefferson College Landscape Master Plan. Pittsburgh, PA: [s.n.], 1983.

W & J: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of Washington & Jefferson College. Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College.

W & J Walker Volunteer Manual. Handbook. [Washington, PA: Washington & Jefferson College, n.d.].

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

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