Van Meter Hall
Designed by Moore and Hutchins
Renovations 1999 by Ziger/Snead
On June 14, 1947, cornerstones were laid for three buildings on the Towson campus. Among these three was the Humanities Building, later named Van Meter Hall. Alumnae and trustee Lulie Poole Hooper, class of 1896, laid the cornerstone for the building, designed by Moore and Hutchins. Due to financial constraints, the ground floor would be built first and the rest as funding became available.
The Faculty Planning Committee was very involved in the planning of the Humanities Building, because, along with the science building begun at the same time, it was one of the first academic buildings on the new campus. The Humanities Building was to accommodate all classes that did not need labs. To ensure the building fit their needs, the humanities departments presented to the Faculty Planning Committee their requests for offices, classrooms, and lecture halls. Moore and Hutchins then designed the building to meet the faculty’s needs, to be constructed in stages, and to reflect the style of Mary Fisher Hall. Harry Hudgins, who built Mary Fisher Hall, also constructed the Humanities Building.
The ground floor of the Humanities Building opened the third term of the 1947-48 school year. Although uncompleted, the ground floor section was thoroughly usable and several classes were taught in the new building, providing some of the first classrooms on the Towson campus.
Early in the development, the alumnae decided that the Humanities Building would be their gift to the College. As a result, they undertook the fundraising process for the building. Lead by Florence Hooper, class of 1907, and Hester Wagner, class of 1921, the alumnae donated 300,000 dollars to the building, and therefore the building was initially known as the Alumnae Gift Building. Although the gift of the alumnae did not cover the total costs of construction, which was $541,980, their contributions allowed the College to quickly complete the building. Furthermore, due to their gift, the alumnae were given the honor of naming the building, and they chose to name it for Dean John Blackford Van Meter, the first Dean of the College. Van Meter Hall was completed and dedicated in the fall of 1949. It was not fully occupied until Goucher Hall on the City campus was sold the following year and all classes were forced to relocate to the new building. Upon completion, it had 17 classrooms, 17 faculty offices, an art studio, speech studio, lounges, conference room, and a lecture hall. Until the College Center was built in 1962, Van Meter housed the administrative offices of the College.
In the summer of 1997, Van Meter Hall was closed down for the school year for major renovations. Designed by Ziger/Snead of Baltimore, the renovations enhanced the existing building by extending the wing of faculty offices, reconfiguring classrooms and offices, and adding a new larger lecture hall. A new stair tower became the focal point of the building, and this addition included an elevator. All the classrooms were modernized and made compatible with digital technology and the number of classrooms increased from 16 to 18 and faculty offices from 47 to 52. Van Meter was also connected to the Heating and Cooling Plant. Reopened in 1998, over fifty years since the building was first occupied, the renovations, which greatly improved the learning environment, received the 1998 Excellence in Design Award from the Baltimore Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
John Blackford Van Meter