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Campus Heritage Network

Bard College

Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York

Preservation Master Plan for Bard College (PDF) 24.8MB

Bard was founded in 1860 at the site of two nineteenth-century country estates that reflected the distinctive geography and culture of the Hudson Valley. The original estates weresupplemented by a number of important early buildings dating from 1859 to 1900, as well as fifty-one pre-1957 buildings, and two National Register Historic Districts have been designated on the campus. With recent enrollment growth and new building programs, there was a pressing need to understand and plan for the protection of these historic resources regarded as central to the college's identity. Grant funds are supporting a Preservation Master Plan to include a physical history of the campus, assessment of existing conditions for buildings and landscapes, and the development of treatment guidelines and preservation recommendations.

Bard College received a Getty grant in 2007 for $160,000 to support campus heritage planning. Read this for more information.


Historic Designation(s): Hudson River Historic District (also known as 16-Mile Historic District contains more than two dozen contributing buildings, sites, and structures, National Historic Landmark).

Report Summary

Bard College is located in the archaeologically, historically, and culturally rich Hudson River Valley. Founded in 1860 as St. Stephen’s, an Episcopal institution to train young men for the ministry, it evolved into a co-educational institution, changing its name in 1934 to Bard, after its founder. See its website for a brief history:

Purpose: In 2007 the college received a grant of $160,000 to create a preservation master plan for the college’s campus. The primary goal of the Bard College Preservation Master Plan was to assist college decision makers, planners, staff, and facility managers in the stewardship of campus building and landscape resources while accommodating future change. The preservation master plan was to complement the new campus master plan, then under development.

How the Plan is Organized

The plan is impressive for its breadth and depth. It begins with a richly detailed history of the Bard College lands, dating back to the prehistory of North America and continuing through their settlement by Native Americans, the English and the Dutch; the development of early estates, farms and communities and the rise of theological education, the lives of the Bard family and subsequent leaders and benefactors. It continues with a discussion of stewardship at Bard and its commitment to sustainable rehabilitation; and an in depth examination of the cultural landscape and building resources: their historical and cultural significance, condition and integrity, treatment guidelines and recommendations for treatment. It concludes with treatment guidelines for new construction and alterations.

Historic Designations: While Bard College is not listed individually, the entirety of its campus is listed in the National Register of Historic Places through its inclusion within two designated Historic Districts. In 1979 the Bard College campus was listed as part of the Sixteen-Mile District; in 1990 this district was reevaluated and its boundaries were expanded through listing of the Hudson River Historic District. This narrow linear district is composed of approximately 40 historic country seats, and extends along the east side of the Hudson River from Tivoli south to Staatsburg and including Annandale, Barrytown, and Rhinecliff. Almost all of the campus buildings built prior to 1950 are listed on the National Register as contributing features to this larger district. Several of Bard’s archeological resources have also been deemed eligible for listing to the National Register.

Planning Process:

Bard College retained JMA, John Milner Associates, Inc. to guide the planning effort. The College’s Project Coordinator and Horticulturist, its Research Coordinator, and College Archivist compiled data collection and general background information on the College with the help of participating students. JMA was assisted throughout the process by a Campus Advisory Committee that participated in establishing the planning process and initially led JMA on a campus tour to identify areas of significance and concern. JMA conducted a detailed field survey of existing conditions of all historic buildings, landscapes, and site features as well as assessed each resource for its historical significance and integrity. This documentation of existing conditions provided the basis for the preservation plan’s development. The committee met five additional times over the life of the grant to review JMA findings and current campus management policies and procedures associated with new development, commented on JMA documents and findings, the preservation approach, treatment guidelines for key buildings and landscapes, and recommendations.

The planning process culminated in a one-day conference, “Preserving Our Campus - A Look at Bard’s Historic Preservation Planning Process” to share the Preservation Master Plan with students, faculty, staff, and members of the public. Consisting of both lectures and tours, and highlight Bard’s historic buildings and landscapes.


Product: one-day conference of lectures and tours for students, faculty, staff and community to share the preservation plan

Policies: Sustainable rehabilitation, consistent with Bard’s mission and the National Park Service guidelines, is a treatment approach that preserves the resources significant to Bard’s history, reinforces Bard’s sense of place, reduces the use of non-renewable resources, minimizes negative environmental impacts, and relates people to the unique natural and cultural environment within which the college resides.

Plan: Preservation Master Plan, including a detailed survey of all campus buildings and landscapes, their significance, integrity, and existing condition and guidelines and recommendations for their design, treatment, and maintenance.

Unique Features:

Emphasis on sustainable rehabilitation

Individuals of significance

Architect Charles Haight, who also designed Columbia’s old campus, drew the plans for St. Stephen’s.

Important designers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, specifically architects A.J. Davis, RichardUpjohn, Charles Haight noted earlier, Charles Babcock, Francis Hoppin and Terrance Koen, as well as the landscape designer A.J. Downing. Influential twentieth century designers including among others, Frank Gehry, Robert Venturi, and Rafael Viñoly.

The Bard family, which played a central role in the development of St. Stephens College, also had a profound influence on shaping the region.

Advisors: JMA
John Milner Associates, Inc.
535 North Church Street
West Chester, PA 19380

Consultant Team

  • Peter Benton, Project Director/Historical Architect
  • Kate Farnham, Project Historian
  • Adriane Fowler, Historical Landscape Architect
  • Christina Osborn, Project Designer
  • Krista Schneider, Project Manager/Historical Landscape Architect
  • Jessica Zeigler-Cihlar, Historical Architect

Credits and Links:

  • General background information on the College was compiled by the College’s Project
  • Coordinator and Horticulturist, Amy Foster; Research Coordinator, Professor Ted Dewsnap; and
  • College Archivist, Helene Tieger, with the help of participating students.

Campus Contact: Amy Foster, Horticulturalist, Bard College, 845-758-7179


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