March 08, 2011
This year the Architectural League will tour attics and crawl spaces of buildings on campus to discover how they were built. They began on February 9 with Cushing Hall (1822-1833), the oldest, continuously-used, four-story dormitory building in the country.
Cushing Hall was built in two sections: First came the east wing and center section in 1822 and then the west wing in 1833. The building has four hall entrances. This picture shows what was originally the rear of the building with porches which were later additions. The building is built of locally made bricks laid in Flemish bond. Each of the rooms was heated with a small fireplace. The center, three-story section housed a two-story galleried space known as the Chapel, classrooms, and meeting rooms for the Union and Philanthropic Literary Societies, whose two separate libraries were an important supplement to the very small College collection.
The contractors for Cushing Hall were William Phaup and Reuben Perry; the design of the building was determined by the Trustees, who modeled it after Princeton University's Nassau Hall. A similar building was constructed a few years later one hour south in Boydton, Virginia, for the new Methodist college, Randolph-Macon, which stayed there until after the Civil War when the college relocated to its present campus in Ashland.
This beam nestled in its cocoon of insulation is 18 inches deep, 6 inches wide, and spans 40 feet across the central bay of Cushing Hall. Around it are later timbers which were added when the slate roof was put on the building. The original roof rafters are 22 inches on center, which is strong enough for wooden shingles or metal, but not for slate.
In early March, the Architectural League visted Escourt. Built in the 19th Cenrury as a private home, Estcourt now houses the Office of Institutional Advancement.
The Architectural League holds business meetings each week on Wednesday evening at 5:30 PM in the main space of Winston Hall. All are welcome. Watch for signs for our next adventure.