Articles

Chosen Christian College (1910s-1950s)

When American collegiate architectural design arrived in Korea in the 1910s, architecture built according to actual Western construction methods had become normalized by the Japanese architectural world. These European revivalist buildings spread throughout the capital of Seoul, many of which were drafted by Japanese architects imitating design trends in the metropole. It was this reliance on European styles being taught in Japan that left Seoul’s new colonial aesthetic decidedly vacant of then-contemporary American architectural design.1 To be sure, the public building designs of Japanese draftsmen in the 1910s trended towards a certain neoclassical European regality, with lesser structures taking cues from picturesque Old World (usually British, French, or German) vernacular buildings. Public schools, generally built as very restrained and efficient structures, were also influenced by this dominant school of architectural thought of the time.

While the Government-General’s architects were penning European-influenced designs for the reformation of Seoul, the building needs of Christian mission stations were growing throughout Korea. The schools at these missions, having been dependent on modified hanok for decades, sometimes went so far as to build new Joseon-styled structures in Western formats. This was in the 1900s and 1910s, a time at which there was little school and church architecture that truly resembled American-styled buildings. Even in Japan, American styles hadn’t meaningfully penetrated Tokyo until the 1910s.

This initial dependence on, and in many cases preference for, Korean architecture by the missionary community began to fade at the end of the 1910s, paralleling the formation of a specific new Christian school at Seoul: Chosen Christian College.2 Though mission work continued to make use of Joseon-style buildings for the duration of the Japanese colonial period, the arrival of American collegiate building design to Korea was a boon to those missionaries who clung to the American middle-class lifestyle, resulting in a drastic departure away from native Korean aesthetics in the protestant community and a move towards a Christian-American led view of modernity. Coinciding with a broader shift in public perceptions of modernity and modern lifestyle in Korea, the creation of this school was one of the institutions that helped push the protestant community closer towards a society and lifestyle that resembled America’s.

Unlike a number of other architectural styles, American collegiate building design did not arrive in Korea by way of copycat architects in the metropole, but rather emerged from New England itself at the request of the growing missionary community on the Korean peninsula. This request came in the 1910s when Horace Grant Underwood led an ambitious new project: the establishment of a modern American-style college.3 Having started a preparatory course in the previous year, college classes were made available around March 1915. They did not, however, even have a building yet, leaving the “college” to meet in the Seoul Y.M.C.A.4 Administrative preparations began this year, with Underwood securing $50,000 from his brother, John T. Underwood, to cover the cost of setting up the physical site and another $25,000 donated by a Charles M. Stimson to pay for the first college building. The selected site sat on the western outskirts of Seoul, an area containing Joseon burial tombs, its hills wooded with pines.

Figure 1. A photograph depicting the Chosen Christian College grounds before construction. Circa late 1910s. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
Figure 2. A photograph depicting the Chosen Christian College grounds before construction. It is unclear what the small building in the background was built for. Perhaps it was the dry kiln. Circa late 1910s. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Though the Government-General was sometimes a thorn in the side of the broader Christian community, the college appeared to have had connections with the government, reportedly “[a]ided effectively by the Japanese officials” in purchasing the site’s more than two hundred acres in 1917.5 To be sure, it was later written that a chief justice of the Supreme Court and the Chief Civil Engineer for the Government-General were elders of the Presbyterian church, listed as co-opted members of the school’s future field board.6 It was officially classified by the government as a type of professional, vocational, or technical school — legally becoming Chosen Christian College on May 14, 1917.7 While there were missionaries who thought their schools should be “thoroughly Christian in name and in fact”,8 the Government-General discouraged formal religious instruction within schools, with some Japanese officials arguing that the existence of private education altogether ran antithetical to the empire’s goals.9 The college’s classification may have then been internally significant for the Presbyterian community due to concerns that the school would, as the soon-to-be leader of higher education in Korea, become a “conforming institution” that had succumbed to the government’s education ordinance.10 Others within the Presbyterian community ultimately recommended in 1915 that the Presbyterian Board “operate the College independent of the Mission” having found no good solution to the issue.11 The college’s charter was then rather pragmatic, stating it would be maintained according to “Christian principles” while also adhering to the ordinance laid out by the Government-General.2 Meeting the government’s requirements continued to be a challenge for the college over the years.

By the time H. G. Underwood’s brother had paid for the erection of a temporary building on the recently purchased college grounds in 1917, H. G. Underwood had already passed away, sadly never having the opportunity to see what would come of the project. The responsibility of president then passed to Oliver R. Avison, a man who had been in Korea as part of the Presbyterian foreign mission for more than two decades. With the issues of purchasing land and obtaining a government permit laid to rest, the problem of further funding remained ever present. It was proposed that Avison travel to the United States to raise funds for the college project as well as for general medical work in Korea. The proposal initially rejected by the Presbyterian Mission,13 Avison did in fact travel to the United States around the end of 1917, arriving as the new president of the relatively undeveloped new college in Korea, assisting in the formation of the education board that would oversee Chosen Christian College. It was during this trip that Avison was said to have been able to “secure advice as to the layout of the site.”14



Murphy & Dana




The design of Chosen Christian College was entrusted to Murphy & Dana, a successful New England based architecture firm with a growing reputation in East Asia. The firm was made up of two partners, Henry Killam Murphy and Richard Dana, who had a history of residential development in Connecticut and New York since their partnership in 1908. It is unclear how Murphy found himself designing the college in Korea, but it’s possible it was the Christian community at St. Paul’s College in Tokyo, a campus Murphy himself designed, that connected him with the project in Korea. Similarly, his recent work in China may have brought his name to the forefront of the Western community in Seoul.

At the end of 1917 and for the first four months of 1918, the architectural firm was engaged in design work related to Chosen Christian College at their New York office.15 Then, in April, while en route to China, Murphy was scheduled to meet Avison in Alabama to discuss the college project. It is unclear whether or not the meeting took place,16 but by the middle of the following month Murphy was already on the ground in Seoul walking over the rural acreage that would eventually become the Chosen Christian College campus. He was so taken with the grounds that he supposedly said he had never seen a better college site – “a remarkable statement in view of the firm’s extensive work in America, China, and elsewhere.”17

The architect did not make this visit alone. Charles Lane, a colleague who worked as the superintendent of Murphy & Dana’s college project at Qinghua, arrived from China to assist Murphy in assessing the situation.18 Together they were able to work through several challenges, including the issue of what they perceived as the Chinese contractor, Harry Chang, not fully understanding what they wanted built.19

Murphy, accustomed to the highest standards of building in the United States, was also concerned about the relatively brittle quality of the bricks available in Korea, instead deciding that the college should make use of local stone, quarried from the site itself.20 Ultimately, reinforced concrete also appears to have been used for the underlying structure and sections of the foundations. Some buildings used terrazzo flooring within, an easy and economical decorative option given cement and stone were materials already available to them.21 The architect imagined the buildings with slate roofing,22 but a pamphlet from the 1930s, as well as photographs from the time of Underwood Hall’s construction, indicate a “vari-colored cement tile” was used instead.23

Figure 3. Top, a perspective drawing of what was planned as the Science Building at Chosen Christian College, which became Stimson Hall, built in 1920. Bottom, perspective drawing of the proposed library building that would have been placed next to Stimson Hall. This library building was never built and the drawing probably dates to late 1917 as it fits within Murphy & Dana’s 1917 ground plans and not the revised 1919 ground plans. Source: Top, from Yan Hong, “Shanghai College: An architectural history of the campus designed by Henry K. Murphy,” via ResearchGate CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. The original drawing is located in the Murphy Papers at Yale University Library. Bottom, from E. M. Cable and H. H. Underwood, Chosen Christian College: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Booklet (Seoul: Y.M.C.A. Press, 1940), Princeton Theological Seminary Library. Note that the drawing of the proposed library has not been published elsewhere and is not specifically listed in the Murphy Papers indices. It is unclear whether or not the original drawing exists/remains at Yale. Given the style of the drawing, it was also clearly made by Murphy & Dana.

It is unclear when the architectural firm began drawing designs for the college, but perspective sketches and preliminary floor plans were made by the time Murphy visited Seoul, including an early general plan of the site dating to December 1917.* Once on the ground, the New Haven native set to work making small changes, writing in a letter to J. T. Underwood that he and Lane had “just worked out for a little Korean stone bridge” and the campus would have a “long vista of approach”, adding that if the three main buildings could be constructed at the same time, the college would “have at the start a complete Academic Forecourt of impressiveness and great dignity.”24 Before departing from Korea, he “arranged to have an administrator [Dean Becker] from the [Chosen] College’s Engineering Department send him a full survey in Beijing so he could formulate a more suitable plan.”25

Figure 4. The 1917 ground plan of Chosen Christian College by Murphy & Dana. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Murphy then moved on from Seoul to Beijing in that same month (May 1918), where other projects awaited him. Furthermore, he was busy establishing his firm’s Shanghai branch office in July, yet he was still able to continue working on the Chosen Christian College project. In October, Murphy apparently visited Seoul again, perhaps for meetings or to ensure that the grounds were ready for construction.26 By the time Murphy & Dana had produced a revised general plan of the campus in May 1919, Lillias Underwood had already laid the cornerstone for Stimson Hall in the previous month.27

Figure 5. The revised ground plan of Chosen Christian College dating to 1919 by Murphy & Dana. Source: Presbyterian Historical Society.

The revised plan from 1919 featured a number of significant changes and was decidedly more detailed, likely a result of Murphy’s visits to the campus site. The elaborate roads and paths surrounding the campus’ main southern entrance were entirely removed from the original plan, and a section to the southwest originally dedicated to residences for both Japanese and Korean faculty was replaced with the school’s agriculture fields. Homes for Korean faculty were shifted east, across from the agriculture fields, as were the homes for Japanese staff, which were moved to the east of the central academic buildings. A radial, so-called “Model Village” meant to demonstrate proper urban planning and, essentially, the American lifestyle to locals was then placed in the space between the newly rearranged Japanese and Korean residences. The houses for American professors to the west of the athletic field became the “Foreign Faculty” residences in the northeastern section of the 1919 plan. Some of these changes probably reflect what one scholar has called Murphy’s “aesthetic issue of how best to use the hilly and wooded setting”.28 The plans for the center of the campus largely remained the same, though two academic buildings no longer remained in the 1919 plan. The outdoor amphitheater from the 1917 plan, located at the northern end of the campus was also removed for the 1919 plan.

Figure 6. For comparison, left, 1917 General Plan. Right, 1919 General Plan. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library and Presbyterian Historical Society.


Decisions of Architectural Style



It is unclear how the decision to build in the Collegiate Gothic style was arrived at, but Murphy & Dana, as a firm, was known for giving clients what they wanted. In New England, Japan, and China, the architectural styles of these projects appear to have been decided by their patrons. However, the way the style and overall appearance of these buildings were implemented required an architect’s input. In China, for example, Murphy had much more freedom in experimenting with design than in Korea and Japan. The projects there, like the Yale-in-China College and Hospital, showed clients purposely asking for Chinese architectural heritage to be preserved.29 As such, Murphy put great thought into what would later be called his “adaptive architecture”, which purposely blended Western floor plans and Chinese architectural features.

 

Figure 7. Top, the Yale-in-China campus buildings at Changsa designed by Murphy. Bottom left, an elevation drawing of the Yale-in-China library building designed by Murphy. Bottom right, the James Jackson Memorial Gymnasium built at Huachung University in the early 1920s. The gym was not designed by Murphy, but the example is included here to illustrate how his design ideas probably spread to other school projects across China. Source: Rockefeller Foundation Annual Report (1923-1924); Year book of the Architectural League of New York (1915); John L. Coe, Huachung University (New York: United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, 1962).

The firm’s commission in Japan was simpler and far less innovative than the work in China. At the request of its overseers, St. Paul’s College in Tokyo essentially became a transplanted American design dropped into a Japanese setting. Though the general plan had to fit the allotted space, the style mimicked university architecture in the United States. Murphy then never had the opportunity to experiment with hybrid styling in Japan the way he did in China. He considered the cultural context in Tokyo, asking various individuals for their opinions, but most responded that Western architecture should be used since adaptations of Japanese architecture were not in vogue at the time. To be sure, Tatsuno Kingo, a prominent Japanese architect responsible for designing some of Japan’s most iconic public buildings from this period, once equated a Japanese-influenced building plan designed by foreigners to a “Western woman who comes to Japan and awkwardly dons Japanese hairstyle and dress.”30 The Japanese architectural world, at the time, blatantly rejected the kind of architectural adaptation Murphy used in China.31

Such factors could have then come into play for Murphy’s project in Korea, which had effectively been part of Japan for almost a full decade by the time Chosen Christian College’s main buildings were under construction. Not only was Murphy’s perspective drawing of the Chosen Christian College campus strikingly similar to that of St. Paul’s College in Tokyo, but the architectural style and format of the main buildings were virtually identical to each other, mirroring American buildings at Murphy’s alma mater such as Vanderbilt Hall, Yale.

 

Figure 8. Top, a perspective drawing of Chosen Christian College, probably made in 1917-1918. Bottom, a perspective drawing of the St. Paul’s College in Tokyo, made circa 1914. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library and The American Architect (1915).

According to Yun Chi Ho, who knew the personalities involved in the making of the college, the decision to use non-Korean architecture was made during a meeting reportedly held by the college’s Board of Directors at Avison’s home in Seoul on Wednesday, November 14, 1917.32 The “lengthy discussion” resulted in the decision “to have the College portion purely foreign”, a reference to the central main buildings.33 An informational pamphlet for Chosen Christian College justified its use of fully Western architecture by claiming, “No Orientals could be prevailed on to vote for the modified Korean type [of building] because they took no pleasure in looking at the hybrids erected so far.”34 The writers, presumably from the college, also added that “insuperable obstacles stood in the way” of appropriately adapting Korean architecture to the needs of Western educational settings.35 The reasons spelled out here, defensive in tone and hyperbolic to some degree since there arguably were successful examples, then perhaps shed some light on the college’s decision to use non-Korean architecture. However, there was some truth to the statement as a few mission stations using modified Joseon designs had experienced structural problems in their hybrid buildings. This decision undoubtedly guided the plans and drawings that Murphy made for the college from the end of 1917 on.



Building Chosen Christian College



After Stimson Hall began in 1919, construction on Underwood Hall and Appenzeller Hall reportedly began on October 5, 1921, at which time both their cornerstones were laid.36 Murphy’s revised 1919 ground plan indicates Stimson Hall was then to be used as the administration building, Appenzeller Hall as the science building, and Underwood Hall for the liberal arts. Busy letting building contracts for the dean’s home (Becker), a Japanese professor’s home, and a handful of Korean homes, by April 1922, the first story of Underwood Hall was almost finished and the first story of the science hall was also underway, offering a glimpse of the college’s construction timeline.37

Figure 9. A photograph from the eastern hill depicting the three main academic buildings. c1924. Source: Presbyterian Historical Society.
Figure 10. A photograph depicting Underwood Hall under construction. c1924. Source: Presbyterian Historical Society.
Figure 11. A cropped image show builders on scaffolding. The vari-color cement roof tiles can also be seen here. c1924. Source: Presbyterian Historical Society.

Like any campus, changes small and big occurred over time and buildings were added as funds became available. In 1925, the fully occupied dormitories were altered to include a reception room on the first floor, offering a common space for families and visitors to stop by, and one of the attic spaces was converted into a small student recreation room for idle newspaper reading and badok playing.38 By the end of November 1925, another Korean professor’s residence had been completed, and two more were under way in 1926.39 Over the years, the acreage of the campus shifted as small pieces were bought or sold for various reasons. Change continued as, in August 1927, the main stairway to the center section of the campus was built at a cost of 1,600 yen. Stimson Hall, despite being only a few years old, underwent a few alterations around this time as well. The nearby dormitories lacked bathrooms and, to compensate, at least part of the Stimson Hall basement was being converted into a public bath by September 1927. The decision to add two toilets to the building, a separate project, was also made.40 By September of the following year, both renovation projects had been completed. The public bath was described as having three, 25 square foot white-tiled tubs, which matches the description of Japanese-style public baths, heated by a “heating stove” boiler.41 While water wells were being dug around the campus, an electric pump was brought in to provide water to Stimson Hall from the reservoir.42

Figure 12. Top: the three main academic buildings. Bottom from left to right: Hangyeong Hall, built 1940 and named after H. H. Underwood’s Korean name. The outdoor amphitheater, built 1932. The agriculture building, which was the initial “temporary” building constructed in 1917, referred to in paragraph six of this essay. Pinson Hall dormitories, built in 1922. All images are undated. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

It was also by this time that the college campus finally received electric power. The college had discussed whether to bring in electricity from the city or to build their own plant in the previous year. After talks with the Seoul Electric Company, a deal was struck in which the main buildings and H. H. Underwood’s house, which was nearing completion in November and not part of the college’s property,43 would be wired with power from the city at a cost of 2,900 yen. Electricity was also reportedly provided to the teachers’ residences, the dormitories, the servants’ quarters, and the tunnels at the entry of the campus in 1928.44

Figure 13. Images of the professors’ residences around the college campus. Undated. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library. Cropped sections of the 1919 ground plan (Presbyterian Historical Society) and c.1925 plan (Princeton Theological Seminary Library)

In addition to general maintenance, like re-tiling roofs, improvements continued throughout 1929 and 1930. There were six of the professors’ type of home by this time, with six more of the Model Village type, and six other simpler residences in what was doubly referred to as the Korean village and Sinchon Village.45 However, much of the work reported by the college’s property committee from this time dealt with roadwork, grading, and erosion control. Sometimes this was done with the help of student labor. As the school was closer to having rail and tram lines running to Sinchon Station near the main campus entrance, so the college bought up more housing lots at the southern end of the campus.46 In erecting the athletic field house and team dressing rooms around 1930-1931, construction materials were reused from the collapsing old dry kiln (previously used to dry out wood) and a farmhouse (previously used by the Agricultural Department).47 By this time, as a telephone switchboard and lines were installed, one report implied the equipment had come from the United States.48 The other furnishings of these buildings varied. Some items came from the United States, others came from the Industrial School of the Y.M.C.A. in Seoul, still more were manufactured by the Industrial Department of Union Christian College in Pyongyang.49

Figure 14. A general plan of the campus dating sometime between the mid-1920s-1930s. Given that a power station is included in the plan and the college decided to use city power in the late 1920s, this plan was likely made sometime around 1925 before the decision to rely on city power was made. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Despite the school’s success during the colonial period, Murphy’s vision for Chosen Christian College was never fully realized. By the mid-1920s to 1930s, the college had simplified Murphy’s elaborate 1919 general plan for the campus grounds. The outdoor amphitheater was brought back into the plan, and actually built in a new location, replacing the large, unassigned T-shaped building featured at the northern end of the campus in the 1919 plan. It ultimately was built near the three academic buildings instead of the northern end of campus. A “Dispensary and Hospital” and “Architectural Hall” were added to the plan near the main forecourt, but were seemingly never built. The purpose of the building planned next to Stimson Hall, meant to be doubly used as an auditorium and for the Y.M.C.A., was shifted to that of a chapel. The building next to Appenzeller Hall, planned for use as a library, remained the same, yet both of these flanking structures were never built.

Perhaps the biggest visual change to Murphy’s 1919 plan was in the southeast section of the campus. The radial shaped Model Village, which was not dissimilar from Murphy & Dana’s 1918 residential development in New Jersey,50 was drastically reduced in size. Originally featuring a church, primary school, and two shops, the village was whittled down to a handful of small homes that were eventually built according to Japanese “culture house” (bunka jutaku, munhwa jutaek) influence. The Model Village was built on land obtained from the Oriental Development Company, a dispute between the company and the college ensuing until 1927.51 According to an early text from 1918 describing plans for the development of the college, the village was designed as a way for married students to live with their spouses on campus, both becoming educated in a Christian-led Western-influenced lifestyle.

The plans for the model village were clearly listed out as follows:
1) Proper methods of laying out a small town.
2) Methods of constructing streets that can be kept drained and cleaned.
3) Best methods of draining and sanitation that can be adapted to Korean conditions in various parts of the country.
4) Improved methods of constructing houses so as to make them easier to ventilate, keep free from vermin, etc.
5) Planning and construction of a primary school building.
6) Model Korean church, the architecture of which may be suggestive to students when they go out into their several fields.
7) Methods of municipal government as applied to towns and villages and in accord with the laws governing the country.**

Though the model village ultimately became a handful of homes in front of the existing Korean village, the goals spelled out here clearly indicate the lifestyle changes the college planned to instill in its students — the model village meant to be developed into something of a microcosm of American life.

Figure 15. A labeled section of the model village at Chosen Christian College showing what Murphy originally planned the village to look like. The plan never fully came to fruition. Source: 1919 General Plan, Presbyterian Historical Society.
Figure 16. Three views depicting the model village as it was actually built c.1930s. The red and purple lines indicate which sections of the plan that the photographs depict. The general plan at the bottom is c1925. Source: Presbyterian Historical Society and Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
Figure 17. A close, cropped view of one of the model village’s homes in which the cement roof tiles and Japanese “culture house” influence can be seen in the roof framing. Undated. Source: Presbyterian Historical Society.
Figure 18. A drawing of a New Jersey housing development by Murphy & Dana in 1918. It shows the firm’s experience with community/suburban design, which could have influenced the planning of the college’s model village in the 1919 general plan. Source: The Architectural Record (1920).

The 1919 plan was probably simplified due to budgetary reasons as reports from the 1920s showed the college discussing how to fund some of these unbuilt structures. To be clear, the college ultimately became an expensive American campus – one that the institution spent an enormous amount of money for Murphy & Dana to design. While it’s unclear what the total bill was for the firm’s work, remaining financial records offer clear indicators as to how much it cost to plan the campus. Some earlier records show line items amounting to 888.36 (gold) for the firm’s work from January 1918 to May 1919.52 Another 2758.82 (gold) was calculated for Murphy’s time working from his Shanghai office, and on his time visiting Seoul.53 A sum of 3029.56 was paid to the firm in 1918 and another 2746.75 in 1919.54 For the 1920-1921 building program budget, 2000.00 (gold) was allotted for “Architects Fees”, which may or may not have gone to Murphy & Dana.55 Similarly, by 1922, a line item showing 6501.10 yen for architects’ fees and a “General Scheme” plan was included in the college’s expenditures.56 The amounts shown here indicate the school, even in the planning stages, was operating not by local standards in Korea, but by building standards in the United States. The college could have saved money by allowing locals to design the school, yet didn’t. To be sure, missionary reports from the 1900s-1910s indicate entire buildings being locally designed and built for 2500-5000 yen. Quality aside, the college could have then constructed three to six more buildings using just the money spent paying professional architects. These figures suggest the lengths to which the Christian community was willing to go in order to have such an institution placed in Seoul.

Chosen Christian College prospered for years until the late 1930s, at which time internal reports indicate the college was facing various difficulties and an uncertain future. In addition to questions surrounding the souring relations between Japan and the United States, the office of the dean and the positions of three department directors were all in flux. Furthermore, John T. Underwood, the brother of Horace G. Underwood who had donated some $300,000 (USD) over the span of his lifetime to the college, passed away in 1937.57 By 1939, the Presbyterian Board had withdrawn from Chosen Christian College due to issues related to the government’s Shinto policies, and though the institution continued to function under Japanese administration, the campus was designated enemy property once war broke out with the United States, with Yun Chi Ho briefly serving as the college’s president during this time.58 The school was briefly operated as a university after liberation from Japan before war broke out again.

One report classified the school structures as still being in a “usable though shabby condition” when Korea was freed from Japanese rule,59 but the Korean War had a far greater impact on the old college campus. When the institutional body was able to return to the grounds in late 1953, “the university had outgrown its badly damaged ‘permanent’ buildings”.60 Initially, since “most of the surviving school buildings [were still] in use as army barracks”, the university’s president, Baek Nak Jun, had teachers meet students outside for class.61 Baek was quoted as saying nineteen of the campus’ houses were salvaged, but that the water and heating systems, as well as the power and telephone lines, were all unusable.62 Sections of the United States military, like the Eighth Army and the Fifth Air Force, assisted in reconstruction efforts, and in April 1955, Chosun Christian University (its preferred spelling according to Korean romanization) had finally merged with the Severance Union Medical College and Hospital – a merger that had been proposed as early as 1929.63 An architect and missionary who spent years in China with the YMCA and the Presbyterian mission, Roy L. Creighton, reportedly planned and initially supervised the construction of the merged institution’s first hospital building, and was involved in “other developments on the CCU campus.”*** By March 1957, the merged institution was officially renamed, after approval by the courts and the Ministry of Education, as Yonsei University.64

Figure 19. Left, Stimson Hall viewed through a shell-hole in Underwood Hall. Top right, the Underwood home bombed out. Bottom right, Stimson Hall bombed out. 1950s. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

There is then, in retrospect, a certain irony surrounding Murphy’s work in Asia. In China, at the behest of his clients, he worked to adapt Chinese architecture to Western form instead of transplanting American styles. Yet in Korea, this kind of adaptation — or what we may call modified Joseon design — occurred through the work of various missionaries only to be later rejected in favor of transplanted American collegiate architecture. One can only speculate as to what Chosen Christian College could have looked like had Murphy been allowed to use Korean architecture in his designs. However, given his passion for developing his “adaptive architecture” in China, and the close similarities between Korean and Chinese architecture, he likely would have produced some interesting fusions of Joseon and Western design. Surely, under a firm like Murphy & Dana, the hybridization of Korean and Western features would have brought a degree of professional legitimacy to the style.

Chosen Christian College might have become an architectural model for other schools of higher learning on the Korean peninsula. Though Union Christian College in Pyongyang tried to mimic Collegiate Gothic schools found in the United States, it was not until after the construction of Chosen Christian College that the same style reappeared in stone on a large, professionally-designed scale. The clearest example of this was at Ewha, when William Merrill Vories was commissioned to build its new buildings (1930s). The new Ewha buildings made use of the same Collegiate Gothic style, as did lesser brick buildings around the peninsula, like Henderson Hall in Daegu (1931). This tradition was carried on, with buildings like Pusan University’s museum building finished in the same style (1959). As Chosen Christian College continued its new life as Yonsei University, some early post-war structures paid homage to the school’s Collegiate Gothic roots, namely Yonhi Hall (1956) and Seong-Am Hall (1960).65

Figure 20. Left, faculty and students meeting at the outdoor amphitheater in the 1950s, the bombed out academic buildings can be seen in the background. Center, Yonhi Hall under construction (built 1956). Right, Yonsei University campus in the 1960s. Source: Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Today, some remains of Murphy’s original Chosen Christian College can still be found on the grounds of Yonsei University. The three main buildings are still there, as well as a few of the professors’ homes, all overshadowed by a number of newer structures built over time to meet the university’s needs. The property lines, ground layout, and the location of Sinchon Station are still similar to the way they were in Murphy’s plans a century ago. And just like a century ago, the campus’ Collegiate Gothic buildings remain unique to their surroundings, the present-day Korean cityscape standing in stark contrast to Murphy’s old stone halls, reminding us of the architectural melting pot that was colonial Korea.



Supplemental Figures
Photographs of Yonsei University, 2019, depicting some of the remaining colonial and post-war period structures discussed in this essay.



S1: The stairs leading to the original academic forecourt at Yonsei University. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S2. The stairs leading to the original academic forecourt at Yonsei University. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S3. Underwood Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S4: Underwood Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S5: Rear exterior of Underwood Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S6: Stimson Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S7: Appenzeller Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S8: Rear exterior of Appenzeller Hall. Note that the window design is almost modernist in appearance. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S9: Pinson Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S10: Hangyeong Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S11: One of the former professor residences built in the 1920s, repurposed as the current home of the president of Yonsei University. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S12: Another remaining professor’s residence built in the 1920s, still used by university faculty today. An early image of this residence can be seen in the center of Figure 13 (scroll back up). Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S13: An alternate view of the same residence in S12. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S14: The remains of the H. H. Underwood House after extensive renovation. It is now a museum. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S15: The outdoor amphitheater as it appears today. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S16: Yonhi Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.
S17: Song-Am Hall. Photographed by Nate Kornegay, 2019. Copyright Nate Kornegay.

Author’s Note: For more on Henry Killam Murphy, see Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001). Cody’s book is a masterpiece study on the architect and his work. I highly recommend it to anyone at all interested in modern and hybrid architecture in Asia.



Footnotes and Citations



1 To be sure, with the exception of church architecture, American-influenced public buildings were just being introduced to Japan in the 1910s, too new to be found in Korea as such design was not widely accepted yet. Some Japanese architects rejected American public building architecture outright during this decade, preferring classical European design. American structural engineering, however, was widely respected.
2 It’s important to note that there arguably were a few buildings constructed by missionary-builders in the 1900s-1910s that resembled, or attempted to mimic, American collegiate architecture. However, Chosen Christian College was the first full campus of a similar quality to professionally designed American universities — distinct from the smaller, single-building schools built by missionaries in their mission stations.
3 One source claims April 1915. Annual Report of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, v. 79 (New York Presbyterian Church in the USA, 1916), 198.; another source says March 1915. E. M. Cable and H. H. Underwood, Twenty-Five Years of the Chosen Christian College: 1915-1940 (Seoul: YMCA Press, 1940), 18. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
4 E. M. Cable and H. H. Underwood, Twenty-Five Years of the Chosen Christian College: 1915-1940 (Seoul: YMCA Press, 1940), 18. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
5 Annual Report of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, v. 79 (New York Presbyterian Church in the USA, 1916), 198.; and Chosen Christian College Bulletin, v. 1 n. 1 (Seoul: Chosen Christian College, 1931), 30. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
6 The Chosen Christian College (Seoul: YMCA Press, 1918), 3. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
7 In Japanese, a “professional school” is termed senmon gakko (専門学校). One source claims April 7, 1917. Annual Report of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, v. 79 (New York Presbyterian Church in the USA, 1916), 198.; Another source says May 14, 1917. Chosen Christian College Bulletin, v. 1 n. 1 (Seoul: Chosen Christian College, 1931), 30. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.; Note that the college would be referred to by a number of names over the years, including Union College of Seoul, Seoul College, and Yonhui/Yonhi.
8 Letter from James Edward Adams to Arthur Judson Brown, November 27, 1915. Transcript. Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection. Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
9 Letter from James Edward Adams to Arthur Judson Brown, November 27, 1915. Transcript. Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection. Princeton Theological Seminary Library.; The letters of James Edward Adams in 1915 suggest it was difficult to get a clear, official response from the Government-General regarding its ordinance separating religious instruction from schools. The language of the ordinance left its execution open to interpretation.
10 Letter from James Edward Adams to Arthur Judson Brown, October 21, 1915. Transcript. Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection. Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
11 Minutes Annual Meeting, Executive Committee Report Section 8. September 1915. Transcript. From larger bound text entitled “Presentation of Difficulties which have arisen in the Chosen [Korea] Mission of the Presbyterian Church in U.S.A. because of a Lack of Definition between the Foreign Board and itself concerning their mutual responsibilities in the administration of Field Work”. Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection. Princeton Theological Seminary Library.  
12 Chosen Christian College Bulletin, v. 1 n. 1 (Seoul: Chosen Christian College, 1931), 10. Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection. Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
13 Letter from Samuel Austin Moffett to Arthur Judson Brown, October 10, 1917. Located in “Samuel Austin Moffett – Letters and Papers, 1914-1919 – 1917c”, Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
14 Chosen Christian College Bulletin, v. 1 n. 1 (Seoul: Chosen Christian College, 1931), 31. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
15 The first ground plan is dated December 1917, indicating Murphy & Dana were already working on the project by the end of that year. Remaining financial records for the beginning of 1918 also give important information regarding the project’s timeline. Payment for January 18, 1918 to May 31, 1919 is noted as the “Second Installment”, offering further evidence that Murphy & Dana were working on the project in 1917. Records of the first installment have not been found.; Chosen Christian College to Murphy & Dana Dr., July 14, 1919. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
16 Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 65.
17 The Chosen Christian College (Seoul: YMCA Press, 1918), 19.; Chosen Christian College: Seoul, Korea, 7. Informational pamphlet. No publication date, however handwritten date of 1925 present on cover. Located in “Ecumenical Cooperation-Foreign Missions” portion of Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
18 Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 65.
19 The contractor, Mr. Chang, was probably the same individual known as Harry Chang in the Western community in Korea. Harry Chang was reportedly a Chinese immigrant whose name later became associated with a number of Presbyterian building projects. Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 65.
20 Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 67.
21 Korea, 25. Pamphlet on Chosen Christian College. Undated, circa 1930. Located in “Ecumenical Cooperation-Foreign Missions” portion of Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
22 Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 67.
23 Based on the author’s observations, the multi-colored tiles could have been a choice based on ceramic trends in the United States, a time in which the American clay industry was manufacturing textured and multi-shaded products. The roof tiles used at the college were seemingly unusual in Korea. Korea, 25. Pamphlet on Chosen Christian College. Undated, circa 1930. Located in “Ecumenical Cooperation-Foreign Missions” portion of Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
24 Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 66.
25 Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 66.
26 A line item in the payments to Murphy & Dana show 500.00 (gold) was paid for a trip to Seoul in October 1918. Chosen Christian College to Murphy & Dana Dr., July 14, 1919. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
27 Chosen Christian College Bulletin, v. 1 n. 2 (Seoul: Chosen Christian College, 1933), 38.
28 Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 65.
29 Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 35.
30 Tristan R. Grunow, “Empire by Design: Railways, Architecture, and Urban Planning in Tokyo, Taipei, and Seoul”, 204. Dissertation. (University of Oregon: December 2014).; note that Tatsuno himself would design Western-Japanese buildings on occasion, yet his words show he felt Western architects were unable to produce successful hybrid designs themselves at the time.; also see Cody’s book on Henry Killam Murphy also shows that after talking with locals in Japan, Murphy realized they and St. Paul’s College strongly preferred a Western style building. Jeffrey W. Cody, Building in China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2001), 30.
31 It should be noted that as modernist styles entered the Japanese architectural vocabulary, the blending of “traditional” Japanese characteristics became more accepted and later encouraged between the 1920s-1940s in Japan. See examples of the Imperial Crown Style. For traces of the Imperial Crown Style in Korea, see this essay by the author.
32 Yun Chi Ho was listed as a co-opted Charter Board Member to serve the first year, later serving as president of the institution 1941-1942. In his diary, he wrote a brief entry regarding the decision to use a “foreign” architectural style. Yun Chi Ho, Diary of Yun Chi Ho, 15 November 1917, National History Compilation Committee.; Chosen Christian College Bulletin, v. 1 n. 2 (Seoul: Chosen Christian College, 1933), 15. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
33 Yun Chi Ho, Diary of Yun Chi Ho, November 15, 1917, National History Compilation Committee.
34 Korea, 24. Pamphlet on Chosen Christian College. Undated, circa 1930. Located in “Ecumenical Cooperation-Foreign Missions” portion of Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
35 Korea, 24. Pamphlet on Chosen Christian College. Undated, circa 1930. Located in “Ecumenical Cooperation-Foreign Missions” portion of Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
36 Chosen Christian College Bulletin, v. 1 n. 2 (Seoul: Chosen Christian College, 1933), 38. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
37 O. R. Avison to George Scott, April 21, 1922. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
38 Report of the Dormitory Committee, circa June-July 1926. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
39 Chosen Christian College, Report of the Property Committee, June 5, 1926. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
40 Annual Report of the Property Committee, September 23, 1927. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
41 Annual Report of the Property Committee, September 20, 1928. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
42 Annual Report of the Property Committee, September 20, 1928. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
43 Chosen Christian College, Report to Seoul Station, November 8, 1927. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
44 Annual Report of the Property Committee, September 20, 1928. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
45 Annual Report of the Property Committee, September 20, 1928. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
46 Chosen Christian College, Report of the Property Committee, October 2, 1930. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
47 Report of the Property Committee to be submitted to The Meeting of the Board, September 24, 1931. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
48 In the property committee report regarding the telephone system, it was written that “…we have to thank Mr. Yi Chun-ho who, while in America, secured reduced prices on the apparatus needed.” It is unclear who this individual was. However, it could have been an error in the writing of the name of Yun Chi Ho. This remains unclear. Report of the Property Committee to be submitted to The Meeting of the Board, September 24, 1931. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
49 Chosen Christian College, Report of the Property Committee, October 2, 1930. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
50 John Taylor Boyd, Jr., “Garden Apartments in Cities,” The Architectural Record, v. 48 (New York: The Architectural Record Co., 1920), 59.
51 Chosen Christian College, Report of the Treasurer for 1926-1927, August 15, 1927. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
52 Chosen Christian College to Murphy & Dana Dr., July 14, 1919. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
53 Chosen Christian College to Murphy & Dana Dr., July 14, 1919. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
54 Disbursements, part of Chosen Christian College to Murphy & Dana Dr., July 14, 1919. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
55 Chosen Christian College, Capital Account Budget 1920-21. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
56 Disbursements. Chosen Christian College, Report of Treasurer for fiscal year 1921-22. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
57 Report of the Chosen Christian College to Chosen Mission of Presbyterian Church in U.S.A., 1938. Located in “Chosen Christian College Reports, 1926-1938”, Presbyterian Historical Society.
58 William Fenn, “Education in Korea,” Reports of the Joint Deputation to Korea (January 9, 1948), 11. Located in “Korea Materials (1946-1948)”, Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
59 William Fenn, “Education in Korea,” Reports of the Joint Deputation to Korea (January 9, 1948), 11. Located in “Korea Materials (1946-1948)”, Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
60 Korea. Loose informational pamphlet on Chosun Christian University and Severance Union Medical College and Hospital (June 1955). Located in “Missionaries – Winn, George H.” portion of Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
61 “Korea: The Country That Never Had A Chance”, Presbyterian Life, February 3, 1951, 20. Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
62 Korea. Loose informational pamphlet on Chosun Christian University and Severance Union Medical College and Hospital (June 1955). Located in “Missionaries – Winn, George H.” portion of Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
63 Conference on Proposed Union between the Chosen Christian College and Severance Union Medical College. Undated. Handwritten note, 1928-1929. Located in “Chosen Christian College reports, 1914-38”, Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
64 Korea, n. 4, March 1, 1957. Located in “Ecumenical Cooperation – Foreign Missions”, Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
65 Yonsei University. Undated pamphlet. Handwritten note of 1962. Located in “Ecumenical Cooperation – Foreign Missions”, Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
* Based on Yun Chi Ho’s diary entry regarding the college’s decision to use Western architecture in November 1917 and the date of the first ground plan of December 1917, Murphy & Dana’s first drawings of the college all probably date to the turn of 1917-1918.
** The Chosen Christian College (Seoul: YMCA Press, 1918), 10-12. Samuel H. Moffett Manuscript Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.
*** Korea, n. 2, March 1956. Located in “Korea Materials (1954-1956)”, Samuel H. Moffett Korea Collection, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.



The ideas, articles, and images featured here are, unless otherwise noted, the intellectual property and copyright of Nate Kornegay, 2020. All rights reserved. Some images have been used according to standard rules of Fair Use, while others are open-access materials or have been licensed or otherwise permitted to be published on this website. Images from the Nate Kornegay Collection and photographs made by the author may not be reproduced without permission. In the case of this essay, some of this information has already been explored by Yonsei University, Korean scholarship, and is available for study in various libraries. However, some of the ideas, materials, and connections made in this essay are newly published.



1 comment on “Chosen Christian College (1910s-1950s)

  1. Pingback: The Architecture of Henry Bauld Gordon in Korea (1899-1905) – Colonial Korea

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