History

History

For nearly a century, Faculty House has served as the center of intellectual and social interaction among the Columbia University and greater community. Take a walk down the Faculty House memory lane and learn about the building and its history.

1920s


In 1894, Columbia University hired the renowned New York City architecture firm, McKim, Mead and White to develop a master plan for the Morningside Heights campus. In 1921, the firm designed the blue print for Faculty House, to be located at 117th Street and Morningside.

Photo courtesy of Columbia University Archives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The goal of the new building was to foster a popular social and intellectual center. The funding for the building was a gift to Columbia from F. Augustus Schermerhorn, Class of 1868 and Trustee of the Faculty House from 1877 to 1908.

Photo courtesy of AL News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were over three hundred members of the University’s teaching staff that were present at the formal opening on May 1, 1923. New York Times article stated that “The new building’s features made it one of the most attractive and serviceable buildings on Morningside Heights.”

Photo courtesy of Columbia University Archives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1923, Faculty House’s construction was completed. The first floor contained a large reception room, coat rooms, as well as billiard and chess rooms. On the second floor, there was a large lounging room and a ballroom. The third and roof floors featured two large dining rooms. This luxurious, spacious design made large social events possible.

Photo courtesy of Columbia University Archives

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lounging room overlooked Morningside Park on the east side of the second story. The space to the opposite side of the hall provided a reception room, which was used for dancing and private parties.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Architecture and Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

1930s


Chef Wehrly and Manager Swift prepare for a 1937 Columbia faculty stag party.

Photo courtesy of Knott Knoter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1940s


Along with stag parties, Faculty House hosted annual Welcome Dinners to honor new faculty members, Christmas parties for families, and formal dances throughout the year. Seen here is a formal invitation to the 1947 Spring Dance.

Photo courtesy of Columbia University Archives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1950s


Faculty House also contained assembly rooms where speakers from all over the world gathered to share their research and ideas. Faculty House was where the University’s most distinguished scholars met and visitors entertained.

Photo courtesy of Columbia University Archives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1980-1990s


Over the years, Faculty House met the diverse event needs of the community, supporting nearly 1,500 functions a week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000s


In the spring of 2008, the building was closed to undergo extensive renovations conducted by Bogdanow Partners Architects, PC. One of the chief renovation goals for the Bogdanow team was to ensure that each of Faculty House’s four floors be designed with its own distinct personality. Seen here is a sketch of the Skyline Level 4th floor.

Courtesy of Bogdanow Partners Architects, PC

 

 

 

 

During the 18-month renovation, the 38,000 square feet of meeting and function space was completely retrofitted inside to support 21st-century technology. Nearly 75 percent of materials from the original structure were refurbished, re-purposed, recycled or donated during the renovation project.

Photo courtesy of Columbia University Facilities

 

 

 

 

 

On September 2, 2009, Faculty House grandly reopened its doors to the Columbia and greater community, ready once again to host seminars, meetings, receptions, social events, and weddings.

Photograph by Tom Crane

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010s


On April 19, 2010 (Earth Day!), Faculty House was awarded the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification by the United States Green Building Council. A significant and state-of–the-art environmental milestone for Faculty House and Columbia University, it was the first McKim, Mead & White building in the country to be given this designation.

Photograph by Tom Crane

 

 

 

 

Today, Faculty House graciously hosts year-round events of all scale.

Photograph by Tom Crane