Built in 1912 as the arts and sciences building, Eliot Hall was named for Thomas Lamb Eliot in 1935 to honor his dedication and service to the college. Today Eliot Hall houses staff and faculty offices and classrooms. The Tudor Gothic architecture mirrors that of Old Dorm Block and the original library.
In 1967 an entrance was created on the east end of the building, opening to a traffic circle known as Eliot circle. The Japanese Flowering Cherry trees (Prunus serrulata) in the circle are sensational in spring. Bigleaf Lindens (Tilia pletyphillos) fill the south lawn in front of Eliot with heavy fragrance in June.
On the first floor of Eliot Hall you will find printing services, the annual fund, the public policy workshop, offices for several admission staff members, classrooms, and faculty offices. The main admission office, financial aid, international programs, student services, college relations and development, public affairs, and faculty offices are all housed on the second floor (the entrance level). On the third floor is the office of Reed's president, the registrar's office, the business office, the dean of the faculty's office, human resources, the college treasurer, and the chapel. The fourth floor holds faculty offices, classrooms, and the special programs office.
Lime stone and brick, patterned after the style of St. John's College of Oxford University in England, were chosen by architect A. E. Doyle for their beauty and lasting structural quality (see the dedication plaque in the south entrance). The bricks were set in "English" fashion, lengthwise and crosswise in alternating rows. Long horizontal lines were used to create a contrast with the tall Douglas Fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii), native to the campus. Fifty unique architectural decorations were used on the building. For example, around the south entrance to Eliot are fleurs-de-lis, symbolizing "the quest of France after beauty and truth," and Richmond roses. Two lions rest beneath the oriel, or bay window, each with a paw on an open book. There are ten bay windows with five or seven seals on each window. The seals represent leading universities and colleges.
Numerous plaques placed outside and inside the south entrance to Eliot Hall commemorate Reed alumni who served in both World War I and World War II. It may be difficult to imagine now, but following World War II, Reed was selected to be the site of the regional Veteran's Guidance Center, and numerous surplus war buildings were moved onto the campus. Some of these buildings served as residence halls, and one that had been part of a gymnasium, was reconfigured first to be the college bookstore and then the art building.
At the southwest corner of Eliot Hall, over the chapel and admission office entrance, is the Reed College seal. This seal is a composite of images, including the Richmond rose, which in this instance recognizes Reed's location in the city of roses, Portland. Fleurs-de-lis come from Thomas Lamb Eliot's alma mater, Washington University in Missouri. The 13 stars are taken from John Adams' family crest (Amanda Reed was related to the Adamses). Finally, the griffin, which came from Simeon Reed's family coat of arms, has emerged as Reed's unofficial mascot. With the head of an eagle and the body of a lion, the griffin has been regarded as a protector of "man and beasts" and as the enemy of ignorance.
The chapel architecture borrows details dating back to the 10th century. The stairway leading up the chapel (from the chapel and admission office entrance), is patterned after that used just before the Elizabethan era. Named the "Staircase of Emulation," the walls of oak paneling were originally intended as a space for hanging commemorative plaques. Restoration work in the chapel has maintained the architect's original color choices for the stucco and fabrics, and for the finish on the wooden beams, carved chairs, and pulpit.