National Park Seminary, Villa, Northwest corner of campus, near Capitol Beltway (I-495), Silver Spring, Montgomery County, MD
Significance: The dormitory was added in 1907 to accommodate an expanding student population. In this regard, it is a testament to the school's success and popularity. Its Italianate design is one of the many exotic styles that was common in the late nineteenth century. It was popularized in the U.S. by the renowned architects Andrew Jackson Downing and Andrew Jackson Davis, among others. Wealthy Americans' "Grant Tour" of the citadels of western civilization, especially Italy, also inspired the use of the style in domestic architecture. An Italian-like villa was not only aesthetically pleasing but also brought forth illusions to Old World grandeur. Italianate architecture was used in many building forms, including resort hotels, commercial buildings, and houses. Like many other architectural forms on campus, the design was meant to titillate and to educate. The school's flamboyant description of the dorm is quoted in full below. "This building has all the charm of a Florentine mansion. With its tiled roof, its columns, archways and plaza, its patio and pergola bridge (connecting it with the Seminary buildings) it stands as an exponent of the simplicity and beauty of Classic design. The architecture was chosen expressly for its subtle suggestion of Italy the land of Story and Song. The entrance is a Venetian hallway, appropriately decorated and furnished, cheered by a great open fireplace of quaint Tuscan design. In this building reside teachers and students in all the close comradeship of common pursuits and aims. Here, too, are studios and practice rooms, properly isolated from living rooms. In fact, we have attempted to produce a physical environment that will suggest, and a fertile atmosphere that will germinate, the artistic ideals which we here pursue." Since the proprietors' intention was to keep a watchful eye on their pupils, it seems incongruous to locate the living quarters so far from the rest of the campus. On the other hand, the site offered convenient access to the train station for girls arriving and departing with heavy loads. The villa was likely to be the first building that students and visitors saw on campus. Because of its prominent location, its grounds were embellished with elaborate Tuscany-inspired geometric gardens.
Survey number: HABS MD-1109-T
Building/structure dates: 1907 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: 1909-1912 Subsequent Work