Lawrence Hall (1920)

April 29th, 2015 Posted in Neoclassical, New London, Renaissance Revival, Theaters

Lawrence Hall

At 15 Bank Street in New London is the Lawrence Hall Building, built in 1920. It replaced an earlier Lawrence Hall building on the same site, which is described in Frances Manwaring Caulkins’ History of New London (1895 edition) as follows:

Lawrence Hall, a private building owned by Joseph Lawrence, Esq., is the principal Hall in the city for public lectures and exhibitions. It was completed in Feb. 1856, and is 105 feet in length, 57 in breadth, and arched above to the height of 24 feet from the floor. It is a beautiful Hall in decoration, proportion and interior accommodation, and with its gallery or corridor, will accommodate 1,200 persons. Architect, W. T. Hallett.

Joseph Lawrence founded Lawrence & Co., a whaling, sealing, and shipping firm. As related in “A Daughter of the Puritans” by Charlotte Molyneux Halloway (Connecticut Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1897):

It deserves to be remembered here that the elder Lawrence was the first man who gave New London a strictly metropolitan building, Lawrence Hall, a fine structure built from the plans of the celebrated architect, Hallett. When it was going up some of the citizens expressed their fears that it would overshadow the rest of the city, and Mr. Lawrence replied: “ That is all right; the city will grow up to it.”

The 1920 Lawrence Hall was built after the 1856 Lawrence Hall was destroyed in a fire. The new building was described in the book Modern Connecticut Homes and Homecrafts (1921) soon after it was built:

In the making of the design for Lawrence Hall Building on Bank street, New London, there is shown again [the architects] Mssrs. Bilderbeck and Langdon’s marked ability to obtain decorative quality through their knowledge of the resources of materials, and beauty of form in the development of natural structural lines.

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