McGehee Hall

history-McGehee_HallHistoric Name: McGehee Hall, Southeastern Louisiana University
Address: Southeastern Louisiana University
City:  Hammond
Parish:  Tangipahoa
State: LA
Zipcode: 70402
Status:  National Register
Date Placed on National Register: 1/18/1985
Level of Significance: Local
Area of Significance:  Architecture
Property Type: Public Building, University
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Theme: Anglo-American Architecture

McGehee Hall (1934) is a two-story brick neo-Georgian institutional building which is the centerpiece of the Southeastern Louisiana University campus. Despite a few alterations, the hall retains its National Register eligibility.

McGehee Hall is set impressively at the head of an axial avenue which leads from the university’s main entrance. At one time the hall served as the administration building, but it has since been put to various uses, and consequently the interior has been somewhat modified. However, it should be noted that for the most part the interior was always functional and architecturally unpretentious. The plan is fairly straightforward with a central entrance, a corridor running to each side, and a staircase located at each end of the building.

The long brick building has bands of metal factory type windows. But despite this, it has considerable grace and dignity due to its neo-Georgian styling. It is articulated with a central colossal Doric pilastered pedimented pavilion and a pair of hip roofed end pavilions. The central pavilion subtly dominates the facade because it is set slightly forward from the building plane and slightly above the cornice line. The end pavilions feature shallow niches which at one time contained fountains. The rear of the hall is less elaborate, but it does feature two aedicule style entrances surmounted by ear molded windows.

 

Assessment of Integrity:

The following changes have been made in the building since construction:

1. The aforementioned fountains have been taken out. (Only the fountain    mechanisms were actually removed.)

2. The front and rear doors have been replaced.

3. Handicapped access ramps have been installed.

4. There have been several interior alterations, the most noteworthy being the   lowering of the ceilings.

Despite these changes, the hall still retains the architectural features for which it is considered significant. (See Item 8.)

Specific dates   1934

Builder/Architect Architects: Weiss, Dreyfous, and Seiferth

Statement of Significance(in one paragraph)

Criterion C

McGehee Hall is locally significant in the area of architecture within the context of the city of Hammond. It represents the work of Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth, one of Louisiana’s most prominent early twentieth century architectural firms. The firm is best known for its tremendous output (about 400 commissions) and the fact that it received some of the state’s most prestigious commissions, including the Louisiana State Capitol, the Old Governor’s Mansion, much of the LSU campus, and Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Of the 200 or so early twentieth century structures in the Hammond vicinity, McGehee Hall is the only example of the firm’s work. It is also the city’s only example of the work of a high style regionally recognized practitioner. All the other period buildings reflect the builder tradition. In addition, McGehee Hall is one of Hammond’s grandest early twentieth century structures. It is the only one to feature three pavilions with a colossal pedimented entrance.

 

Historical Note

Southeastern Louisiana University was founded in 1925 as Hammond Junior College. In 1928 it was brought into the state system of higher education and renamed Southeastern Louisiana College. The present campus site was purchased in 1927, McGehee Hall was named for Dr. Lucius McGehee, one of the school’s founders.

 

Major Bibliographical References

History of Southeastern Louisiana University found in 50th anniversary booklet. Copy in National

Register file, LA State Historic Preservation Office.