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University Center (Packer Hall)
Prominently sited on South Mountain, Packer Hall, Lehigh University's principal building, is an aggressively muscular Victorian Gothic essay. It was much admired. Architectural critic Montgomery Schuyler called it “a vigorous and picturesque performance … well adjusted to its commanding site and well adapted to its communal uses.” Those uses included the president's office, chapel, teaching museum, engineering drawing room, classrooms, laboratories, dormitories, and exercise room. The building rises a full three stories, plus an attic floor lit by gable end windows and dormers, and a basement floor. Its three principal massing elements reflect its various functions. The east end was a large classroom and laboratory block with dormitory space in the attic.
There have been a few alterations. The building's tower was damaged by lightning not long after construction, and was rebuilt in 1883 by Addison Hutton without its grandly elongated mansard roof. Later additions to the rear and west end, of matching stone, are hidden from view behind the massive structure. Otherwise, it is in an exceptional state of preservation.
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