Following the construction of Paul Hall in 1873, a steady evolution in architecture and education came and went, while Paul Hall remains the only building left on Muskingum’s former Historic East Campus. So what all was up there?
To preface the following article, my definition of the “Historic East Campus” may vary from those set by historians. My view starts with the construction of the building that would become known as Paul Hall, named for President David Paul, as its history and what follows gives it a distinction as the only building still standing. I am also including the lots on Layton and East High Street as those houses were bought by the college for construction of new buildings in the 21st Century. Also included is the Little Theatre due to it being a part of the East Campus, and where its bricks were sourced.
Muskingum College began in 1837, and for 14 years its faculty and students met in a simple, three-story building that caught on fire in 1851. The structure was rebuilt, seemingly identical, and would later have Paul Hall added to the front. This is the reason for why Paul Hall has a short, nonmatching extension in the back that serves as the staircase and bathroom facilities, as the stairs between the two floors were contained in the 1851 building.
The next building on the East Hill to be constructed would be Johnson Hall in 1899. Like Paul Hall, it did not receive its name until much later, and being named after the College President that served in the time the building was constructed, Rev. Jesse Johnson. This expanded the school’s capacity for science classes, adding a chapel on the west side of the building, and contained rooms for Literary Societies. The building was constructed at $10,659 ($334,505.10 adjusted for inflation in today’s dollars) and was likely constructed on the cheap.
As the back portion of Paul Hall was considered unsafe due to it being a rebuild of the original College Hall that caught fire, the rear was removed and its bricks being recycled to build the Alumni Gymnasium. It was located across Layton Drive from where the College Drive Presbyterian Church sits today. This would be the first building for Muskingum focusing on the physical health of its students, and served this purpose for a few decades. It was a one-story building, its gym featuring bleachers, a wooden floor, and a raised ceiling.
Beginning with the Presidency of Reverend J. Knox Montgomery, he ensured a Manse would be built for him and his family to reside in during his term, which lasted until the early 1930s. A garage would be built later on for storage of the automobile Montgomery drove, with it being accessible from College Drive. The Manse stood west of four houses, 7, 5, 3, and 1 College Pl. 7 College Pl was likely built prior to the Manse based on photographs taken before the Manse’s existence. 5 College Pl was a one-story cottage design built either late 1890s or early 1900s, with 3 and 1 College Pl being built mostly identically. Of the four houses, 5 College Pl is the poorest-documented due to it often being obscured by Johnson Hall, or poorly-contrasted aerial photos.
Between 1963 and 1994, 5 and 7 College Pl were demolished, with their lots being used to expand the backyard of the President’s Manse for events, and eventually a new garage. 1 and 3 College Pl would later be bought by the school, and lived in by Phi Mu Alpha (Sinfonia) fraternity and Sigma Alpha Iota sorority, respectively, until 2008 when those two houses were also demolished in the construction of a new music building.
Following the construction of Caldwell Hall wrapping up in 2004, Johnson Hall and the Little Theatre (formerly the alumni gymnasium) began to see some of its primary functions migrate to the new building. Left behind, however, were the music, language, and art programs. Paul Hall housed the music programs despite how little room it had, and Johnson Hall still had the Louis Palmer Art Gallery in the west wing on the bottom floor, along with the language and art programs. The school recognized the disadvantage of space issues, and set out to begin adding room for the arts.
East of Paul Hall sat 57 and 55 N. Layton Drive. 57 held extra space for music practicing and classes, and 55 was formerly the house of Professors Charles and Ferne Layton, which later served as the Art Annex. Two lots on East High Street, 4 and 10, were subsequently bought by the college and demolished to make room for a new art complex.
In 2006, the John and Ruth Neptune Center mirrored the Cape Cod architecture of the Art Annex, while increasing size significantly for art workspaces. With the Neptune Center in existence, Johnson Hall slowly had its art programs migrated to Neptune, Art Annex, and even some in Paul Hall. Its Palmer Art Gallery would also move to the library, essentially putting the nail in the coffin for the building’s functions. Due to its age and increasing costs in maintenance, the construction ended a long chapter of history, leaving the land open for a new chapter.
Beginning in December 2008, the two remaining College Place houses, the Manse’s garage, and Johnson Hall were demolished to make room for what would become Otto and Fran Walter Hall, the new music building, and home for the foreign language programs. Up until a few years ago, Microsoft’s Bing Maps had a Birds Eye View feature that contained images of Muskingum College right at the beginning of the construction. Thanks to another website, I was able to obtain higher-resolution images that weren’t compressed by Bing. Not long after obtaining these images, the Birds Eye Feature went down, and the images are believed to be lost as Microsoft no longer holds the license for those photographs.
Not long after Johnson Hall was demolished, another historic building was razed after being condemned for some time. The former Alumni Gymnasium, now known as the Little Theatre, would be demolished in June 2009. With the location being mildly inconvenient for the college to find any use for it, the lot sat empty for nearly a decade until citizens of New Concord decided to start the Friendship Garden on top of it.
With the Palmer Art Gallery using space in the Library, and with plans to completely remodel the Library next, the two remaining annex houses would be demolished in early 2012, with the Palmer Art Gallery opening in its own brick building the following year. This completed the plan to dedicate the furthest part of the East Campus to the Arts.
With all the changes made to the Historic East Campus from 2008-2013, the plans seemed to be finished, and two historic buildings remained: Paul Hall, and the President’s Manse. In 2015, it was announced that University President Anne C. Steele would be retiring the following year, and the Board of Trustees had made the tough decision to raze the Manse upon discovering significant damage to the foundation. Following the transition, a new house was made for incoming-President Sue Hasseler in the nearby Meadowood subdivision, and the Manse came down to a pile of rubble in July 2016.
With the President’s Manse demolition, this left, and leaves, Paul Hall as the last building holding up the definition of the Historic East Campus District. As buildings age, new ideas, goals, and chapters continue to begin. The school has done some work to archive and display its history, though it leaves a bit to be desired as not enough of it is available online, with this entire article coming from years of my fascination with my alma mater, carrying years of photographs, notes, and books I have collected.
As this article comes to a close, I do plan to continue uploading my digital collection online as much as I can over the next several years, and as I gain permission for some of the pictures of the college that many do not know I have acquired, those too will come up online someday. While I love studying the historical aspect of the college and its various buildings, I also understand how well practicality is a factor in continuing to attract new students and further their education. However, there is always room for historical preservation, through photos, classes based on it, discussions, or even a singular building dedicated to all of that. Muskingum University has not gone that direction yet, but I highly suggest that they take the opportunity someday to do it as you never know who will be the next student fascinated to a point of near-obsession over the school that changed their life forever.
– Muskingum County Auditor for the addresses, and 2003 satellite imagery
– Google Earth Satellite imagery from April 1994
– Muskingum College Muscoljuan Yearbooks from 1920-2008
– Muskingum College (The Campus History Series) book by Heather Giffen, William Kerrigan, and Ryan Worbs
– A History of Muskingum College book by William L Fisk
– College music building rendering by Bialosky + Partners, uploaded by Timothy Dumm on Flickr
– Otto and Fran Walter Hall final design picture by Joshua Franzos, as copied from Muskingum University’s About Music page
– Information regarding design of the College Place houses were determined by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of New Concord. The 1918 and 1946 maps can be found on the website of the Library of Congress.