History of Crouse College
Built through the generosity of John Crouse as a memorial to his wife, Crouse College was intended to be used only as a women’s college. The first cornerstone was laid in June 1888, and the building was completed in September 1889. It was officially named the John Crouse Memorial College for Women.
Crouse died before the building’s completion. After his death, the building was opened by his son to both men and women. Crouse College housed the first College of Fine Arts in the United States. It was the third building on campus and highest structure in Syracuse when it was built.
Designed by Archimedes Russell, Crouse College was built in the Romanesque Revival style with High Victorian Gothic qualities. The exterior structure is made of Longmeadow brownstone and supported by a stout granite foundation. The high roofs, gables, rounded arches, and dormer windows provide a general medieval character which is romantic and stately in nature. The interior is distinctively Romanesque with carved hardwood woodwork designs representative of the elaborate patterns of this period.
Between 2001 and 2003, the building was treated to an exterior renovation. Companies from Syracuse and Ottawa, Canada, performed many tasks at great heights, including removing and replacing all of the mortar between the bricks; repairing or replacing the slate tiles on the roof; repairing the turrets, tower, and louvers covering the vents of the bell tower chimes; and removing and repairing all of the windows.
Crouse College is home to Winged Victory, the sculpture that sits at the bottom of the main staircase. The original was found in the Mediterranean Sea and is now exhibited in the Louvre. Crouse College also contains stained glass associated with religious subject matter and spiritual renewal. Some pieces were designed by former faculty member Richard Wolff and students from the college’s School of Art and Design and were installed in 1970.
Crouse College was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It is now home to the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Rose, Jules R., and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music and the college's administrative offices.
About the auditorium
Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium, which seats approximately 700 people, was originally intended as a chapel. It contains an intricate 70-foot beamed ceiling and a medieval church atmosphere. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the auditorium provided a space to hold concerts and recitals. Today it hosts more than 175 concerts and recitals each year by Setnor School of Music faculty and students as well as guest artists.
The organ in Setnor Auditorium was a gift from John Crouse and was originally built by Frank Roosevelt in 1889. It was rebuilt by Estey Organ Co. of Vermont in 1924 and again in 1950 by Walter Holtkamp. The 3,823-pipe organ retains many of the original pipes.
In 1998, the auditorium underwent a renovation that included replacing the seats with wooden chairs reminiscent of the originals, refinishing its hardwood floors, and cleaning the chandeliers and organ pipes.
About the bell tower
Crouse College's stately bell tower was designed to house the first tower chimes installed in Syracuse, which were manufactured by Clinton Meneely Bell Co. of Troy, New York. The 10 bells, a gift of John Crouse, cost $5,000 in 1888 and have a total weight of 5 1/4 tons. The bells range from 375 to 3,000 pounds each. Today the bells are still rung regularly by the student group the Chimesmasters and can be heard within a one-mile radius.
You can find more SU history by visiting the SU Archives web site.