During its long and gracious tenure on this historic campus,
the President’s House has served the community well — not only housing presidents
and their families — but providing a dynamic venue, fully integrated with the
life of the college.
As Dickinson engages the world, the President’s House is a
center of activity for influential people who visit from around the globe and
across the street. Guests have included past and present Dickinsonians, community
leaders and other notable individuals, such as member of Parliament Ian Gibson,
author David Kessler, composer Milton Babbitt and actors Antonio Banderas,
Melanie Griffith and Julie Harris.
Here, alumni gather to honor accomplishment, current
students engage in lively discussions and visiting dignitaries exchange thought-provoking
ideas. Whether dining in stately rooms filled with fresh flowers or gathering
around candlelit tables in the garden, the President’s House draws
extraordinary people together in an environment that fosters enterprise and
relevance — as is fitting on the grounds of this “revolutionary” college.
Located at the eastern edge of campus, the house was built
in 1833 as a smaller Roman-classicism-style structure, often referred to as the
“villa,” by Judge John Reed, who had attended Dickinson College with the
class of 1806. Through classes conducted in the basement of the house, Reed in 1834 gave an informal start to the Dickinson School of Law, which is
separate from Dickinson College. Over the next decades the house occupied a
busy position in the commercial district of Carlisle, as it was situated near a
warehouse and the rail line on High Street.
In 1889, the house was purchased by Dickinson College
President George Edward Reed (no relation to the original owner), and he
quickly sold it to the college. Through a $7,000 gift from William Clare
Allison, who had served on the Dickinson Board of Trustees, the building was
enlarged to two and a half stories, doubling its size.
Under the direction of President Mervin Filler, a new north
face was added in 1929. Designed by W.W. Emmart and funded by Mrs. Paul
Appenzellar, whose husband was a member of the class of 1895, the addition
established the entrance on the eastern side of the house, turning the old
front entrance and porch into an open terrace. In 1979, under President Samuel
Banks, the facade was sandblasted to remove the stucco and reveal the natural
brick. A third-floor apartment was added in 1983, augmenting the suite already designated
as guest facilities on the second floor.
While the house has evolved over the years into a
colonial-revival style home, the columns, pilasters, pedimented gables and
heavy cornices of the original structure are still prominent. Today the house
is an elegant blend of old and new, reflecting the reverential past and bold
future of Dickinson College.