James Hunter, a Boulder architect, provided the master plan and designed the early buildings for Fort Lewis College, which is spectacularly sited on a high mesa on the eastern edge of Durango. Most buildings on this sprawling young campus are made of tawny native sandstone. With some 4,300 students, the college is Durango's second biggest industry after tourism. Begun as a military post in Pagosa Springs during the 1880s, this was an Indian school, a high school, and a junior college before it became a four-year college in 1962. The most spectacular structure, Hunter's McPherson Chapel (1959), is a geometric abstraction with a large prow aimed heavenward above an angular stained glass wall, a design reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's Madison, Wisconsin, Unitarian church. Dramatically sited on the edge of the mesa overlooking Durango, it is tied to its site by rough-faced ashlar walls of local sandstone.
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Fort Lewis College
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