AKA: Stanford University, Sequoia Hall #1, Stanford, CA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Percy and Hamilton, Architects (firm); Ransome, Ernest Leslie, Engineer (firm); Spencer and Ambrose, Architects (firm); William Clement Ambrose (architect); Frederick F. Hamilton (architect); George Washington Percy (architect); Ernest Leslie Ransome (civil engineer); Eldridge Theodore Spencer (architect)

Dates: constructed 1891, demolished 1996

3 stories

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Serra Street
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

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Building History

For an elite, private school, Stanford was unusual for its admission of women in the 1891, matriculating 80 (of 555) students in its first class. Originally, Stanford started a substantial dormitory for women emulating the massive Richardsonian Romanesque men's dorm Encina Hall (1891), but this could not be erected by opening day, 10/01/1891, so, on another site, the San Francisco architectural firm Percy and Hamilton collaborated with the concrete building specialist, engineer Ernest L. Ransome (1844-1917) to erect a smaller and cheaper dorm that could be finished quickly. (Slightly earlier, Percy and Hamilton worked with Ransome on the Stanford University Art Museum, another quickly built, early reinforced-concrete building.) In 97 days, the designers succeeded in completing the dorm, constructed of rusticated concrete stones rather than cut sandstone. Its fourth-floor attic space had to be pressed into service for rooms, requiring the additions of dormers for lighting. Stanford renamed the first Roble Hall, "Sequoia Hall" in 1918, after a second women's dorm also named Roble Hall, designed by San Francisco architect George W. Kelham (1871-1936), was erected northeast of Lake Lagunita.

Building Notes

A Stanford University publication prepared for the centennial of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 04/18/1906 stated of the temblor's damage to Roble Hall #1: "Roble Hall was the women’s dormitory that complemented Encina Hall, the chief difference being that it was constructed more quickly and cheaply out of reinforced concrete, a relatively new material at the time, which was also used to construct the original Stanford Museum (Site 1). Reinforced concrete was selected because the decision to admit women for Stanford’s first year had been made too close to the University’s opening to allow for masonry construction, but as a result, the building withstood the shock relatively well. According to the Stanford Daily, no severe injuries occurred in Roble. The two front chimneys fell, causing portions of the upper floors to collapse to the first floor. Similar to the experience at Encina, three women dropped down one to two floors, but they were not buried in the wreckage and survived 'without a scratch.' Damage to the building was otherwise cosmetic, consisting of broken window panes and plastering." (See Stanford University, "Earthquakes and Student Life Encina Hall 6," accessed 08/01/2016.)

Alteration

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, questions about Sequoia Hall's structural integrity caused concern for its use as a dormitory. Engineering examinations led to its condemnation by about 1945, and it was decided that the building's crumbling concrete could not support multiple stories. Stanford's campus architectural consultants, Spencer and Ambrose, lopped off the two upper floors and attic as well as the five-arched front portico, leaving a T-shaped one-story structure. The Departments of Statistics and Applied Mathematics occupied space in the severely truncated Sequoia Hall from 1957-1996.

Demolition

Roble/Sequoia Hall #1 was razed beginning on 08/22/1996, as part of the Near West Science/Engineering Campus redevelopment project (later known as the Science and Engineering Quad [SEQ] Project), that began in mid-1980s.

PCAD id: 16152