Historic Easton home relocated to make way for 169-bed Lafayette College student dormitory

Written by on August 9, 2021

Historic Easton home relocated to make way for 169-bed Lafayette College student dormitory

By Megan Frank
August 9, 2021

EASTON, Pa. – Lafayette College has relocated a historic College Hill home to make room for new dormitories. 

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Located just across the street from campus, the house is being preserved as part of a settlement with neighbors who opposed tearing it down. It moved on Aug. 4 to McCartney Street, just a short walk from where it stood along Clinton Terrace. It’s set to become the new Portlock Black Cultural Center for students. 

Lafayette alum and architect William Marsh Michler designed the home in the early 1900s. He also designed the Herman Simon Mansion and campus buildings like Pardee Hall. 

Easton resident Toni Mitman is thrilled to see the house saved.

“This neighborhood is part of everyone’s life on College Hill,” Mitman said. “This is a historic district. The vernacular architecture should be kept so that it’s all in context with the neighborhood.”

The college plans to take down more than a dozen buildings just off of McCartney Street to make way for the 169-bed dorm. 

Still, the saving of the Michler house is a triumph for the community. Neighbors who took the college to court to save the home agreed to a settlement, which includes the formation of a citizens committee. The goal is to strengthen community bonds with the college. Lafayette also agreed to create a scholarship fund for Easton Area High School students. 

Robert Young, director of intercultural development at Lafayette College, was there to watch the house move.

“So, the house will now be used as the new [Portlock] Black Cultural Center. “[The] first floor will be for gallery space for student work, offices, full kitchen [and the] third floor will be a residential space. The basement will be a social space for students.”

We’re expanding as an institution. If you see on the other half of McCartney Street we now have a new bookstore. So, we’re now going into the model of having retail at the bottom and residential at the top. That’s what current students want in a college experience,” Young said.

Chuck Argue, an engineer with Bruce E. Brooks and Associates, the firm working on the project,  said there is a lot of work to do before anyone moves in. 

“There’s not much left in that building at this point,” Argue said. “We have to get into the building, do the addition, all the new interior finishes, all the new systems in there.”

Peggy Castronova, who has lived on College Hill for 40 years, said she’s glad the Michler house will remain in the neighborhood. 

“I think it’s wonderful,” Castronova said. “It’s a beautiful stone building. From what I know, there was a lot of controversy, but I think it’s working out. I hope so.”

Renovations on the house are expected to wrap up early next year. 

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