Rosemont College, Rathalla Hall

Rosemont, Pennsylvania

Rathalla Hall is the centerpiece of Rosemont College. Visible from almost any place on campus, it is prominent not only geographically, but also in the hearts and minds of alumni. To this day it remains the symbol of the school. With this in mind throughout every stage of the renovation and restoration of this building, the main objective was to retain the original ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$142.00CITATIONCollegiate CitationFEATURED IN2001 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYCommon Areas of the house, inside and out.

Rathalla Hall, built in 1891 in the French Chateau style, originally was used as a wealthy Philadelphia merchant’s summer residence. The Society of the Holy Child Jesus purchased it in 1921. The 18,000-square-foot mansion soon became the main building for the newly incorporated Rosemont College and housed living quarters, offices, classrooms and a dining hall. Recently, Rathalla Hall served mainly as living quarters for six nuns. Today, with the campus hemmed in by growth and development, college administrators decided to renovate the underused building to house the departments of admissions, development, public relations and alumni relations.

The challenge in the renovation and restoration of this building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was to upgrade the facility with new HVAC, electrical, plumbing and fire-protection systems so that it could function as a modern office and still maintain the existing interior spaces’ grandeur. Great pains were taken to hide the new sprinkler systems and HVAC ductwork in walls and behind trim.

On the first floor, the existing atrium, living room and dining room were maintained for social functions, while the library was transformed into a conference room. The remaining first-floor area was dedicated to the admissions office. All of the existing wood finishes on the first floor and atrium area up to the third floor were stripped and refinished. The walls in these areas were repainted, and the original stenciling was duplicated. The third-floor atrium’s stained-glass ceiling skylight was removed, cleaned, repaired and reinstalled. The existing large bedrooms surrounding the atrium on both the second and third floors were gutted to accommodate new offices. Men’s and women’s restrooms were added to each floor. ADA-compliant accessibility to the building was accomplished by installing a platform lift at the porte-cochere and providing an elevator in the building from the basement to the third floor.

"Beautiful renovation; great integration of today`s necessities with yesterday`s classic design--a timeles beauty made better!"--2001 jury