Q. Is there a history of the early campus plans for American University?

Answered By: Kathryn Ray
Last Updated: Nov 26, 2018     Views: 63

Before the University could open, trustees had to fundraise for buildings as well as an endowment. Money pledged often did not materialize. Some proposed buildings were never constructed due to personnel changes (fundraising problems and Rev. Gray's eventual departure signaled the end of the proposed Lincoln Hall). The University also went through a number of campus planners. In a nutshell, the Olmsted plan fell through because of disagreements between the firm, AU, and Van Brunt & Howe firm. Olmsted believed the topography couldn't accommodate the classical symmetrical design, AU favored a neoclassical design. After the dissolution with the Olmsted firm, Van Brunt & Howe assumed responsibility for the campus planning but resigned after problems with the builder. Henry Ives Cobb was hired as architect and campus planner.

Please review The Methodist Experiment in Graduate Education: John Fletcher Hurst and the founding of The American University, 1889-1914 https://dra.american.edu/islandora/object/thesesdissertations%3A2657 for information relating to early campus development.

For additional resources about early AU history buildings and campus plans, take a look at:

American University: The Formative Years   https://dra.american.edu/islandora/object/auislandora%3A8322 provides original correspondence by and between AU's founders regarding the development of the University. You'll find information about early buildings and campus planning.

The University Courier https://archive.org/details/universitycourie9226amer/page/n5 was the first University newspaper and you'll find a lot of information about building fundraising.