Building the Towson Campus

Goucher College was founded in 1885 as the Woman’s College of Baltimore City by the Baltimore Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church on six acres of land in what was then north Baltimore. The small original campus included the First Methodist Episcopal Church, now called Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, designed by Stanford White in the Romanesque Revival style made popular by his teacher, H. H. Richardson. The first buildings of the Woman’s College were also designed by White in the Romanesque Revival style.  Situated primarily on St. Paul and Charles streets between Twenty-Second and Twenty-Fourth streets, the campus grew rapidly during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  During the first decades of the twentieth century, the college occupied twenty-six buildings in an area characterized by rapid urban growth.

In 1921, seeking to escape the confines of the city, the Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of a 421-acre estate in the Baltimore suburb of Towson. The Board intended to eventually relocate the college to this site. The land itself has a deep and meaningful history as thirty enslaved workers labored there who were owned by the landowners, Harriet Ridgely and Henry Banning Chew (see the Epsom Farm project for more information and Hallowed Ground project with more information forthcoming). Lack of funding for the move and then the collapse of the American economy during the Depression, however, required that the move be postponed.      

Plans for the Towson campus began to take shape during the spring of 1938, when a program for an architectural competition for the design of the suburban campus was introduced. There were 150 respondents in total to the competition, and 50 out of those ended up being invited to submit designs for the Towson site. The jury was made up of President David Allan Robertson, Professor Ivan Clinton Winslow, and three members of the Advisory Boards of Architects. Although there were technically no requirements for submissions, the competition program specified that at least eighteen buildings were needed for the campus, and that the design should reflect the informal and intimate nature that characterized college life. Notable architects that entered the competition ranged from the more traditional McKim, Mead, and White, Aymar Embury II, and James Gamble Rogers, to the Modernists Richard Neutra and Eliel and Eero Saarinen. The winner was the New York firm of Moore and Hutchins.  Moore and Hutchins’ design was reminiscent of the Prairie School style, freely planned, drawing inspiration from the natural environment, with low-level, horizontally designed buildings that conformed to the contours of the land. Moore and Hutchins also emphasized the integration of natural features already existing on the land, as well as flexibility, functionality, and efficiency.[1]

Moore and Hutchins designed over nine buildings that were built from 1942 to 1963: Mary Fisher Hall, Anna Heubeck Hall, Van Meter Hall, Froelicher Hall, Julia Rogers Library, Hoffberger Science Building, Lilian Welsh Hall, Alumnae House, several service buildings, and Haebler Memorial Chapel, their last building, completed in 1963. 

In 1958, the prominent Modernist architect, Pietro Belluschi, then dean of the School of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became chairman of the Advisory Board of Architects.  Under his leadership of the Advisory Board, the new buildings built on campus assumed a new Modernist style, heavily influenced by Belluschi’s own designs for the College Center (now Dorsey Center) and the President’s House.  Stimson Hall, designed by a student of Walter Gropius, a Belluschi collaborator, was one such building that clearly reflected the influence of Belluschi’s Modernist style.[2]

Otto Kraushaar

Planning Stimson

The College completed its move from Baltimore City to Towson in 1954, to accommodate its growing student body. In the years after, the number of students choosing to reside on campus seems to have grown exponentially. President Kraushaar wrote to Clinton Ivan Winslow in 1960 that, “We shall continue our best in recruiting day students, but the trend is so unmistakably towards a residential college, we must immediately restudy present building plans to take this factor into account,” indicating that the number of rooms needed to accommodate students was changing even as Stimson was in its early planning stages.[3]

In 1959, President Otto Kraushaar, the ninth president of Goucher College, announced plans for the building of a new residence hall, which would eventually become Stimson Hall. Soon after the announcement, a planning committee was formed to work with the Towson-based architecture firm Wilson & Christie on designing the new dormitory. The planning committee included John E. Motz, J. Harry Schisler, J. Jefferson Miller, C. Milton Pagel, and Otto F. Kraushaar. The building was to include a new infirmary (to replace the old one which had been in Mary Fischer hall), a dining hall, and accommodations for 250 students. The building was to be set off from the rest of the campus, secluded in the Goucher woods, and made with exposed cedar and stone to blend into its natural surroundings. Both Kraushaar and the committee communicated interest in creating a unique building that was consistent in style with the modern aesthetic of the Towson campus.

Originally called Residence Hall #4, the five buildings that made up the dormitory were later named after significant individuals who contributed to the College. The whole complex was named after Dorothy Stimson, former Dean of the College and briefly Acting President (January to June, 1930). The five Houses within the Stimson complex (Wagner, Conner, Lewis, Winslow, and Probst) were named for donors, patrons, and alumnae of Goucher. ( see “Building Stimson,” below) Winslow House was named after Professor Clinton Winslow, who taught at Goucher College from 1923 to 1965, and who was also the chair of the faculty planning committee from 1937 to 1965.

Dorothy Stimson
Clinton Ivan Winslow

With the completion of Stimson Hall in 1966, the work of the Planning Committee was essentially finished. At that point, the Committee’s chair, having served for sixteen years, reflected on his experience as Chairman in a note he wrote to another member:

“I think the Committee has a right to feel some pride in its accomplishments. Probably no one else knows better or even as well what mistakes have been made or poor judgment exercised at one or another time in the last twenty-eight years — and we weren’t going to tell. Nevertheless, perhaps in this case, the good that men do may live after them and the evil be interred with their bones. The only tangible symbol of our activity is, I suppose, a plaque which will appear in due time in house #4 of Stimson Hall.”[4]

The building of Stimson Hall represented an important step in Goucher College’s transition to a primarily residential, rather than commuter, school. Its construction helped to shape the mission and climate of the college into the modern day. It’s safe to say that the work of this planning committee did, in fact, ‘live after them,’ building a residence hall in which generations of Goucher students would live and study over the course of over five decades, from 1965 to 2019.

Goucher College Campus 2021
Plaque in Winslow house, as predicted! (Photo by Joel Nadler, 2019)

Timeline of Stimson’s Construction


[1] Kornwolf, James D. Modernism in America 1937-1941 : A Catalog and Exhibition of Four Architectural Competitions : Wheaton College, Goucher College, College of William and Mary, Smithsonian Institution. Williamsburg, Va.: Joseph and Margaret Muscarelle Museum of Art, 1985. 69-123.

[2] A detailed discussion of the construction of the Towson campus can be found in Scott Davis, “Building a Greater Goucher: The History of the Buildings on Goucher’s Towson Campus,” an online exhibit in Special Collections and Archives, Goucher College Library. https://www.goucher.edu/library/special-collections-and-archives/exhibits/building-a-greater-goucher-the-history-of-the-towson-campus/; for more information on Belluschi and his architectural influence on the campus, go to the “Architecture” tab on this website and scroll down to “Pietro Belluschi.”

[3]Otto Kraushaar to Clinton Winslow, 20 October 1960, Building and Grounds, Series II, Box 3, Special Collections and Archives, Goucher College Library.

[4]Clinton Winslow to Martha Nichols, 28 July 1965, Building and Grounds, Series II, Box 3, Special Collections and Archives Goucher College Library.

Planning Committee Meeting Minutes and letters from Planning Committee Members about Stimson: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OXk5XEB3twf3npOP7KWuIHXB7TU57Jc6kZsSmsgTFj0/edit?usp=sharing