The Exterior

Photo of detail of the tower

By virtue of its magnificent silhouette, its enormous windows and its polychromatic brick and slate roof tiles; Memorial Hall is impressive even to passers by who have no awareness or interest in its architectural and historical significance. Closer inspection reveals the thousands of architectural and ornamental details that validate Memorial Hall's reputation of being the one of the greatest Ruskinian Gothic structures outside of England.

The repeated use of the rosette, trefoil, quatrefoil and cross motifs lend continuity to both the exterior and interior of the building. These details can be found in the wood carvings of Sanders Theatre and of the great transept doors, the sandstone frieze that surrounds the exterior, the columns and wrought iron gates of the Walker Porch, the buttresses of Annenberg Hall, the stained glass windows of the transept, the ornamental iron work outlining the roof of Sanders Theatre and crowning the four subsidiary towers, the chandeliers in both the transept and Sanders Theatre, and even in the design of the remaining original furniture.

The Walker Memorial Porch on the west end of Memorial Hall is a tribute to James Walker, President of The College from 1853 until 1860. A large relief carving by Anne Whitney in honor of President Walker dominates the interior wall. Roger Annenberg '62 for whom Annenberg Hall is named, and Edward A. Wild, class of 1844 who served as a Brigadier General in the Union Army and died in 1891 bearing wounds he received at Williamsburg are also memorialized on this wall.

In the gables above Sanders are the busts of seven distinguished orators: (from the south end) Desmothenes (Greek), Cicero (Roman), Chrysostom (Christian Greek), Bossuet (French), William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham (English), Burke (English), Webster (American). These busts are the work of John Evans of Boston.

The exterior of Memorial Hall remains much the same as designed by Ware and Van Brunt. Two additions have been made at the North West corner in order to accommodate kitchen facilities, one in 1908 and one in 1995. The creation of Loker Commons included the massive task of shoring underneath the west end of the building in order to create a new entrance directly from ground level to Loker Commons.

 

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