History of the Buildings on Goucher's Towson Campus

I. The Founding & Early Years of the College (1884-1920)

In the early 1880s, the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church wished to found an institution of higher education for women to celebrate the centennial of the Church, founded in 1784. The result of their efforts was the incorporation of the Woman's College of Baltimore City in 1885. In 1890, the name of the College was changed to the Woman's College of Baltimore. Students of all religious backgrounds were accepted to the College, but as the founders, the Methodist Episcopal Church had a profound influence on the College, especially in the development of the campus.

  • The family of Goucher’s first president, Dr. William H. Hopkins, with construction of Goucher Hall in the background, ca. 1886-1888. Photograph courtesy of the Goucher College Special Collections & Archives.

John Franklin Goucher, one of the founders of the College, and his wife, Mary Fisher Goucher, donated land, at 23rd and St. Paul Streets, for the initial campus that bordered the First Methodist Episcopal Church, where Dr. Goucher was the minister. The renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, who designed the First Methodist Episcopal Church, planned the campus and designed many of the early buildings. Built in the Romanesque style, the campus harmonized with the First Methodist Episcopal Church that was also used by the College. When the Gouchers donated the land for the College, it was on the northern edge of Baltimore City, yet in just a few short years, the surrounding area became more developed, and the College lacked the opportunity to expand and desired to move from the City. Dr. Goucher had served as the second president of the College, from 1891- 1908, and together with his wife, they were the principal benefactors in the early years of the College. In 1910, in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Goucher, the College's name was changed to Goucher College.

In 1913, the College welcomed its fourth president, Dr. William W. Guth. Shortly after his inauguration, Guth, recognizing the restrictions the city location placed on the College, advocated for a relocation of the campus. However, the College had experienced financial deficits since its founding that threatened closure on several occasions, making an immediate move difficult. Reorganizing the College’s finances, Guth sought to increase student enrollment and the endowment fund with the long term goal of financial stability for the College and therefore the ability to relocate the campus. To meet these desires, Guth sought to increase national recognition of the College, and he launched a campaign to raise $1million. The success of this campaign, combined with the Million Dollar Campaign of 1913 that was carried out by Acting-President Van Meter, eliminated the College debt, saving Goucher from what had appeared to be impending closure when Dr. Guth assumed the presidency.

II. Acquisition of the Towson Land (1921-1929)

On May 25, 1921, in spite of financial uncertainties, Goucher College, under the auspices of President Guth, purchased 421 acres in the town of Towson, in Baltimore County, just north of Baltimore City. Prior to the purchase of the land for approximately $150,000, only President and Mrs. Guth, and John Alcock, treasurer of the Board of Trustees, had seen the land.

  • Epsom Farm, the site of the new Goucher campus, as seen from what is now Dulaney Valley Road. Photograph courtesy of the Epsom Farm Collection, Epsom-26.

Following the purchase, Guth initiated the Greater Goucher Campaign, which combined a million dollar campaign to increase the endowment to improve academics and a five million dollar drive to move the College to Towson. The $6,000,000 Greater Goucher Campaign was also known as the 4-2-1 Campaign, in reference to the size of the new land, 421 acres.

President Guth engaged the renowned architect Bertram Grosvener Goodhue to create a plan for the new campus. Goodhue died in 1924 before completing a sketch for Goucher, and in 1926, Woldemar H. Ritter drew the first plan, a gothic styled campus that received great publicity in the Baltimore news.

Due to the extended illness of President Guth, major college decisions were suspended from 1926, when he became ill, until his death in 1929. Also, the 4-2-1 Campaign, which lasted eight years, from 1921-1929, raised only one million, which was not sufficient to move the College. As a result, no building took place during Guth's administration, but the Towson land was utilized for student outings, picnics, and May Day festivities.

III. The Architectural Competition (1930-1939)

Upon his inauguration in 1930, President David Allen Robertson strove to reenergize the College. Robertson's inauguration coincided with the beginning of The Great Depression that placed even greater financial difficulties on the College. The Depression prohibited a move to Towson in the early part of his administration, but during this time he reorganized the faculty, improved the admissions process, made important changes to the curriculum, and renovated several of the City campus buildings. In 1935, the Alumnae Association asked the Board of Trustees to create definitive plans for the move of the College to Towson and to present them at the 50th Anniversary Celebration to be held in 1938, honoring 1888, the year the College opened to students. In spite of the Great Depression, President Robertson decided to act on the Alumnae Association's request, and along with Judge Emory H. Niles, and John W. Sherwood, president and vice president of the Board of Trustees, explored the best ways to create the new Towson campus.

After careful consideration, the College appointed an Advisory Board of Architects consisting of three architects, Edward L. Palmer Jr. of Baltimore as chairman, James R. Edmunds Jr. also of Baltimore, and Richmond H. Shreve of New York City, to oversee the creation of a new campus. Furthermore, President Robertson created a Faculty Committee on Planning chaired by Goucher Professor of Political Science Clinton Ivan Winslow. Professor of Fine Arts, Eleanor Patterson Spencer was also a key member of this Committee. This committee played a vital role in the development of the Towson campus, helping shape a campus that reflected the needs of the students and faculty. The Trustees also formed a Building Committee.

  • Announcement by the President of the Board of Trustees in the Goucher Building Fund News, November 6,1939.

At the suggestion of the Advisory Board of Architects and the Faculty Planning Committee, the College held a national competition to choose the architectural firm to design the new campus. From over 150 architects who submitted credentials, 50 were invited by the College to participate in the competition and 35 designs were submitted. The entries included a general plan and a detail of the library. All were judged by the Jury of Award consisting of Dean Everett V. Meek, School of Fine Arts, Yale University, chairman; John A. Holabird, Architect, Chicago; Gilmore D. Clark, Landscape Architect, New York City; President Robertson; and Professor Winslow. The winner, who was announced at Goucher's 50th Anniversary Celebration in 1938, and the recipient of $2,500 was the New York City firm of Moore and Hutchins.

IV. Groundbreaking & Transition (1940-1954)

Moore and Hutchins' winning informal Modernist design, maintained the natural contours of the land, and featured the use of local Butler stone and simple lines. Their plan reflected the College's desire to create a relaxed and natural atmosphere for the campus. Interestingly, the design for the new campus was completely opposite from the Romanesque style of the existing City campus.

Understanding the financial restraints of the College, Moore and Hutchins' plan provided flexibility in that individual buildings were designed so additions could be easily made. The general plan also ensured that the campus would reflect the overall desired aesthetics through all stages of development. This plan directly guided Goucher development for twenty years and still influences campus construction today.

Construction on the new campus began in 1941, and the first building, Mary Fisher Hall, a residence hall, was completed in 1942. By this point, U.S. involvement in World War II was well under way, and a national building moratorium was put into effect, directing all materials and man power towards the war effort. As a result, no more building occurred on the Towson campus until 1947, when Goucher was able to revive its building plan following the War. The completion of Mary Fisher Hall also began an eleven year period of commuting between the two campuses as Goucher could not finance all construction at once.

  • President Robertson breaking ground for Mary Fisher Hall, 1940. Photograph courtesy of Goucher College Archival Photograph Collection, 1.39.009.

In 1948, Dr. Otto Kraushaar became president, inheriting a college with two campuses. Upon becoming president, he noted three areas requiring immediate attention: overall direction of the building process; raising funds; and managing a college divided between two campuses that resulted in a high attrition rate for Goucher. Kraushaar decided that unifying the College was the most important action to take and would be his primary focus. The planning process previously created by Robertson that defined the roles of the President, trustees, Faculty Planning Committee, Advisory Board of Architects, and architects had created positive results and was left in place. However, clear directives were needed, and Kraushaar created a highly detailed ten year building plan outlining the order of campus construction and the means of funding. He oversaw this plan with great vigor, building six buildings in six years. Robertson had been a big proponent of building the library; however, Kraushaar felt housing for all students at Towson was of greatest importance, and as a result, he postponed the construction of the library to build Froelicher Hall.

To unite all college activities, Kraushaar focused on the immediate construction of what he called the minimal campus. As its name implies, the minimal campus would include basic housing, academic, and recreational facilities encompassing all aspects of the College and allow for liquidation of the remaining city buildings. To deal with the College's financial problems as well as to raise funding to continue building, Kraushaar hired a professional fundraising firm. He also created the Board of Overseers, which included prominent Baltimore business men, to increase support from the greater Baltimore community. Through this group, Kraushaar was able to secure funding from the Hoffberger family for the needed science building. In 1954, the minimal campus was complete; the last city building was sold, and the College had officially moved to Towson. Although no longer the owners of the property, Goucher was honored in 1978, when 18 of the 26 buildings that comprised the city campus were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

V. One Campus in Towson (1955-2008)

Following the complete move, the building drive did not end, as only a basic campus existed. Rapid construction continued until the mid 1960s with Moore and Hutchins designing most of the buildings during this time. In all, Moore and Hutchins designed over nine buildings 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. In 1968, they were asked to design the Robertson Wing of the Julia Rogers Library that links the library with Van Meter Hall.

  • Haebler Memorial Chapel, Moore and Hutchins’ last building. Photograph courtesy of Goucher College Archival Photograph Collection, 3.21.008.

In 1957, landscape architects Hideo Sasaki and Associates drew a new master plan for the College. Their plan made few changes to the 1938 Moore and Hutchins plan; in effect, they simply updated it, taking into account the construction on the campus and the surrounding growth. A major feature was the addition of a belt of trees around the buildings. In the 1950s, as part of the increase of suburbs across America, Towson grew rapidly. Part of the Baltimore Beltway went across the northern most part of Goucher land, and other campus land was used to widen Dulaney Valley Road and build new roads, including Fairmont Avenue and Goucher Boulevard. The actual campus occupied a small portion of the College land, and capitalizing on the surrounding development, in 1955, the College sold a portion of its land for the Campus Hills housing development. A shopping center, what is today Towson Town Center, was built on the southern portion the Goucher property and land was also sold to the Hutzler Brothers Department Store.

In 1958, Pietro Belluschi, Dean of the School of Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became chairman of the Advisory Board of Architects. Under Belluschi's direction, Goucher began to diversify, utilizing several, primarily local, architectural firms. The departure of Moore and Hutchins, did not, however, mark the end of their influence. In fact, Dorsey College Center, although designed by Belluschi, occupied the site indicated by Moore and Hutchins and used similar materials and a complementary design to the other Moore and Hutchins' buildings.

  • Dorsey College Center. Photograph courtesy of the Goucher College Archival Photograph Collection, 3.7.005.

During his tenure, Kraushaar was deeply involved in the building process, and in 1963, he was honored with the Layman Honor Award of the American Institute of Architects, Middle Atlantic Region, in "recognition of outstanding contribution to the improvement of the architectural climate of the Baltimore community" through his efforts in developing Goucher College. Kraushaar was truly the builder of Goucher's Towson campus. He oversaw the development from only one completed building when he became president in 1948 to over 17 buildings upon his retirement in 1967.


  • President Otto Kraushaar with blueprints, ca. 1948-1951. Photograph courtesy of the Goucher College Special Collections and Archives.

With the completion of Stimson Hall in 1966, the building drive that had occupied all of Kraushaar's administration ended. In the mid eighties, under President Dorsey, a long-term plan calling for gradual renovation and the construction of new buildings was implemented. In the early nineties, a new arts center and athletic facility were built in response to the decision of the College to become co-ed in 1986. In addition, the existing academic and residential buildings were renovated and updated and many were also expanded. In the new millennium, as a result of a growing student body, Goucher built two more residence halls and in the fall of 2009 completed construction of the Athenaeum. This building, both in location and use now serves as the center of campus activity with an open forum, cafe, art gallery, community service center, a commuters' lounge, and ample meeting space. In addition, the main portion of the Athenaeum is a new library, replacing the Julia Rogers Library which was renovated into academic space.

VI. The Spirit of Goucher

The campus buildings recognize and honor individuals who have been essential to the development of Goucher College. Like many colleges, some buildings recognize individuals who have generously contributed to Goucher College in its many campaign drives. Their support has provided Goucher with the financial ability to create a fine campus and maintain high academic standards. Without their commitment, Goucher would not have made it through financial difficulties in its history. Other college buildings, especially the older buildings, honor dedicated Goucher community members including faculty, staff, alumnae/i, and trustees who have contributed to the development of Goucher through their time, dedication, and unfaltering loyalty.

Although the campus is now only 297 acres, it cannot be denied that the spirit first manifested in 1921, when the original 421 acres was purchased, still continues. The architecture and overall development of the campus has received many awards over the years, and in 2007, it joined the former campus on the National Register of Historic Places. Goucher College's buildings, old and new, continue to honor the idea outlined in 1938, that the campus reflect the natural beauty of the land and provide an informal positive learning environment.