Historical Lens on the Architecture of Thomas Hall

Sara Lazarovska's picture

How was this place once a farm? Now, sitting on the edge of the non-functioning fountain in the cloisters, it seems as though the castle-like building that is Thomas Hall has been there forever, all stone, cold, and medieval. But wait - North America never experienced medieval times like Europe did. So how did this castle design end up on a chunck of what was once a 700-acre farm?

I didn't know that this part of Pennsylvania was originally settled by the Welsh. I was faced with the fact when I realized that Bryn Mawr is not the only peculiar town name around here when I first got here. Still, when the Welsh got land from William Penn, they didn't build castles that resembled the ones in their motherland; in fact, most of them did some kind of farming (usually subsistence).

So, how did Bryn Mawr College's Thomas Hall's architectural style came to be if there were mostly farms around here? I am assuming that Bryn Mawr, like Haverford and Swartmore, was originally founded by Welsh Quakers. They, I presume, wanted to capture a part of the spirit that universities and colleges back in Wales had by mirroring the architectural style and ideas, copying (in a way) a bit of home onto "the new world."

With that realization in mind, I accept the fact that Thomas Hall has not been here for as many centuries as I thought, and the fountain I'm sitting on might once have been a place where sheep lay to sleep, or where wheat was grown. Still, I prefer the cloisters with their "current look" - enchanting.



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