Seminary Buildings

A map of the primary structures at the Seminary is available to help you visualize the placement of the buildings. small map of Seminary
train station at Forest Glen In the early 1880s, there wasn't much at Forest Glen except a train station, a post office /general store, a market, a few houses, and a small hotel called the Glen Manor Hotel. Nearby was an old tobacco plantation, which contained the Edgewood manor house and several slave cabins.
When Forest Glen Improvement Company began development in 1887, they built the Forest Inn hotel and the Forest Glen Park neighborhood on the other side of the Glen from the train station. The hotel had a few out-buildings (a bowling alley / billiards hall, a gas house for generating acetylene gas from carbide, and a maintenance building that also housed the stables).
Braemar Forest Glen Park has several Victorian houses still standing today, but the one that is most important in the history of the Seminary is Braemar (built by Seymour Tullock).

Another small building in the neighborhood overlooked an 80-foot cliff down to Rock Creek, and was called the Lookout House.

Before the first students arrived in 1894, the Cassedys transformed the hotel. The bars and gambling rooms of the casino became parlors and classrooms. It became the Main Building of the new Seminary. Initially, it was a combination dorm, class building, and the administrative offices.

the Lookout House
the first Gymnasium One of the first new buildings to be put up was the (old) Gymnasium. A separate stables building was erected in 1897. Also in 1897, the first of the sorority clubhouses (the Alpha bungalow) was built.
Science & Art bldg. 1898 saw several buildings go up, including the Chiopi bungalow, the Chapel, Senior House (a residence for senior girls), the Science and Arts building, and a home for the Cassedys they named "Aloha."

Two more sorority houses, built in 1899, established the tradition of fanciful styles for the clubhouses: the Zeta Swiss Chalet and the Kappa Windmill.

Recitation House and walkway When it was built in 1900, Recitation House was originally called Mother Sorority House.

In 1901, the Miller Library was erected for the rare book collection of Dewitt Miller. That year, the Odeon (a theater) was also built, as was the expansion to Aloha that would be called Junior House (a dormitory for the youngest of the students).

Japanese pagoda clubhouse In 1903 and 1904, the final four sorority houses went up: the Theta Indian Mission, the Delta Colonial House (Gatehouse), the Beta Castle, and one of the Seminary's most famous buildings, the Chi Psi Upsilon Pagoda.

Three buildings were erected in 1907: a new and larger Gymnasium, a residential building called Villa, and the old Maintenance Building was expanded and renamed Practice House.

Dr. Ament extended the physical plant of the Seminary by buying a large adjacent tract that had been part of the tobacco farm, and turning it into a farm with a working dairy to supply the school. He called the entire property incorporating this new area "Amentdale Estates". The girls often rode horses down the "corduroy road" which had once been used to transport barrels of tobacco down to a landing on Rock Creek. Ament built a Canoe Landing and Boathouse in Picnic bldg at Minehaha creek its place, and had the creek dredged (by Mr. Grubb) for almost a mile for the girls' enjoyment. Also along the same road, a small building by the creek (called the Picnic Building) was used for cookouts.

Ament also expanded several of the other buildings, creating something of an architectural jumble in the process. He built a new President's House between two other buildings at Senior House Court, extended Senior House, created a grand Ballroom the Chateau Garden Parkway in the new Ament Hall, built a Music Hall next to Odeon and named it Teresa Catherine Conservatory of Music for his wife, and erected the Chateau Garden Causeway.

There were several scenic bridges over the Glen at the Seminary. Some were there from the days of the hotel, but Dr. Ament deserves credit for others. In fact it was said that if a bucket was left out overnight and collected rainwater, he would build a bridge over it in the morning.

Fine art work and statues graced the grounds as well as the building interiors. A few of these are still on the site, although perhaps not in as good condition as they were.

Since the Army acquired the property by condemnation during World War II, it has erected several buildings in the area, including barracks where the Athletic Field used to be and adjacent to the Gymnasium, a large Commissary complex, many additional buildings closer to Brookville Road, and they are in the process of building a high-rise building (fortunately, some distance from the old buildings). They tore down the Plantation House and the slave cabins when they built the Commissary in the 1960s. On the whole, the Army buildings add nothing of historic or aesthetic value to the site. At times, the Army has planned to raze the Seminary buildings to put in a large incinerator or condominiums. What they plan to do with the historic part of the property has not been announced at this time. They may yet find a way to demolish it, over the objections of those who want to see it preserved. The fact that the buildings were declared a Historic Site gives them some (minimal) protection against the bulldozer, but not against vandals and water-damage.

Alpha bungalow
Beta Castle
Chiopi bungalow
Chi Psi U Pagoda
Delta Colonial House
Forest Inn / Main
Kappa Windmill
Miller Library
Odeon Theatre
Senior House
Theta Indian Mission
Train Station
Zeta Chalet

This page was last maintained on 05/21/98.