In the last post I shared a picture of campus in the 1930’s and promised that I would address a master plan created in the late 1920’s and known as the Wabash Plan.

This plan was created by the architect who designed the Pioneer Chapel and Goodrich Hall on the Wabash campus, Jens Frederick Larson. As the college architect, Larson created a plan that turned the campus 180 degrees. The Chapel was the first bulding in the new plan and would serve to turn the focus from the “Old Row” of Yandes (now Detchon), Peck (where Hays Hall is now), Center Hall and South Hall (where Baxter is now). The campus was built, originally, to face onto Grant Street. With the coming of the Chapel, that focus changed and the Mall became the lawn of campus.

Larson’s plan created a series of quadrangles on campus. In the drawing above, existing buildings are in black and proposed buildings or new expansions are crosshatched. Here is a rundown of the drawing numbered clockwise, starting with Yandes Library (Detchon Hall).

1 Yandes Library was to become an expanded library combined with a student union by the addition of two wings. Each wing resembled a slightly smaller Goodrich Hall.

2 Peck Hall which was torn down two decades later and replaced with Waugh Hall.

3 Proposed languages academic building.

4 Center Hall’s proposed change was the addition of a steeple which, according to Larson, was envisioned when Center was built. Due to a perennial lack of funds as Center was built and the College never completed the steeple.

5  South Hall, the oldest building built here, was to stay the same, with some sprucing up of the interior.

6 Proposed social sciences building

You will note that the changes proposed for the east campus included the addition of two academic buildings at right angles to Peck and South Halls. This formed a quadrangle, one of three Larson envisioned in his campus plan.

7 Pioneer Chapel which was designed by Larson and is still the same as it was when built.

8 The Chapel was to serve as the anchor for the dormitory quad, which was to be built on a portion of the athletic fields. Three new buildings were to be added south of the Chapel.

9 A hall for the sciences was placed on the new mall and that became Goodrich Hall. This is the only other Larson building actually constructed on campus.

10 The Gymnasium was to stay the same.

11 The swimming pool. It would be another few decades before Wabash had a pool on campus.

12 This proposed building (exactly where the Campus Center was built) was to be a Little Theater.

13 Listed simply as “Future Group”

14 “Future building” is the spot on which the Lilly Library was built.

15 “President’s House” is the Caleb Mills House.

This “Wabash Plan” was to be the framework for an ambitious fund raising plan for the “Wabash of the Future” in connection with the college’s centennial in 1932. Following the crash of 1929, many things changed, and the big campaign withered in the face of the Great Depression.

In 1940 both President Hopkins and the President of the Board of Trustees, James P. Goodrich, died. The new president of the college Frank Sparks and the new President of the Board of Trustees, Lee McCanliss, took over the college just as WWII hit. Following the war, when money began to flow to Wabash again, Sparks and McCanliss chose a different architect – Eric Gugler – to design the new Wabash and only a few small pieces of the Larson plan were implemented.

I often wonder how Wabash would look had the Larson plan been implemented. An example might be Colby College in Maine. Larson designed an entire new campus for Colby which was implemented. Dartmouth has a number of Larson buildings as well. For more information on the connections between Wabash, Larson and President Hopkins, here is a link from a previous post:


Beth Swift
Wabash College