Guide to the Records of the Campus Commission

Collection Title: Records of the Campus Commission
Dates: 1905-1910
Identification: 0/2/1
Creator: Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Campus Commission
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: In the first decade of the twentieth century Northwestern University became concerned with developing a coherent architectural and landscape plan for its Evanston campus. This series documents the efforts of the Campus Commission to solicit and select a comprehensive design. While most of the records date from the period 1909-1910, the series also includes two 1905 letters from Daniel Burnham and George Maher's 1907 study.
Acquisition Information: These records were transferred to the Archives prior to June 1, 1974 and were accessioned as #74-9.
Processing Information: Thomas Dorst, March, 1981.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Related Materials: See George Maher biographical file for related material. See also: Sketches by Daniel Burnham & Co., 1905, University Archives Architectural Drawings Collection # DHB-NC1/1-4
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

In the first decade of the twentieth century Northwestern University became concerned with developing a coherent architectural and landscape plan for its Evanston campus. Studies of the campus were done by D.H. Burnham in 1905, George Maher in 1907, and the Olmsted firm in 1909. At the instigation of President Abram W. Harris, the Board of Trustees, on February 15, 1909, acted to approve working rules for a Campus Commission. On March 22, 1909 President Harris, Business Manager William Dyche, and five architects and planners formed the Campus Commission.

The purpose of the Campus Commission was to evaluate the various reports on the campus and oversee future development and modification of both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. Throughout 1909 the Campus Commission attempted to develop a plan based on Commission member George Maher's 1907 study that recommended construction of additional dormitories and a parkway parallel to Lake Michigan which would serve as the main axis for future campus construction. Agreement on a workable general plan eluded the Commission and in March, 1910, President Harris, expressing dissatisfaction with the pace of the work, proposed holding a competition among planners to develop a comprehensive plan for the Evanston campus. This course was ultimately adopted over the objections of some Commission members, particularly Maher. The Competition was announced in 1911. Entries were solicited from twelve architectural firms. The design of Palmer and Hornbostle of New York was declared the winner of the Competition. A number of factors precluded the complete implementation of the winning design, however a number of its suggestions were executed, with the North Campus Quadrangle being the best remaining evidence of the work of the Campus Commission.

Scope and Content

This series documents the efforts of the Campus Commission to solicit and select a comprehensive design for the Northwestern University campus. While most of the records date from the period 1909-1910, the series also includes two 1905 letters from Daniel Burnham and George Maher's 1907 study.

Materials relating directly to the Commission include a copy of the working rules of the Campus Commission approved by the Board of Trustees on February 15, 1909. It also includes the minutes of the Commission from its organization on March 22, 1909 through May 3, 1910 when it was decided that a Competition be held to choose a comprehensive campus plan. The series includes a copy of the Olmsted Report, a letter outlining the conclusions of the Maher Study, and a copy of a Maher Study drawing of the proposed campus plan. There are several drafts of a sub-committee report outlining a general campus plan, based primarily on the Maher plan. There are several drafts of the Program for the proposed Competition, which document its evolution during 1910. The series contains a letter from George Maher complaining that the proposed Competition would usurp ideas he had already presented to the Commission. There is a copy of the published Competition Program. The series also includes eight narrative descriptions of plans that accompanied drawings submitted in the Competition. There is a copy of the winning plan entered by Palmer and Hornbostle. The Archives holds none of the original Competition drawings.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)--History

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Campus Commission

Subjects

Campus planning--Illinois--Evanston

College campuses--Illinois--Evanston--Design and construction


Container List / Contents

  • Daniel Burnham Proposal, 1905Box 1, Folder 1
  • Maher Plan, 1907Box 1, Folder 2
  • Campus Commission: Working Rules, 02/15/09Box 1, Folder 3
  • Minute Book, March 1909 - May 1910Box 1, Folder 4
  • Olmsted Report, 1909Box 1, Folder 5
  • Subcommittee Reports, May 1909 - Feb 1910Box 1, Folder 6
  • Competition Program: drafts and published version, n.d.Box 1, Folder 7
  • Maher Correspondence regarding competition, 06/29/10Box 1, Folder 8
  • Narrative Descriptions Accompanying Competition Entries, n.d.Box 1, Folder 9
  • Palmer and Hornbostle Winning Plan, n.d.Box 1, Folder 10