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History of Reid Hall
In the eighteenth century, what is now Reid Hall was a small porcelain factory. In 1799, the site – which then consisted of a main building with an entryway and a garden whose carriage entrance was on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, was rented by the Dagoty brothers. They transformed and enlarged the site, making it into one of the most successful porcelain factories of its time.
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By 1812, the main building resembled what exists today: a ground floor, two upper floors, and an attic lit by ten casement windows which look out onto the street and ten others which overlook the garden. In the courtyard was the well, still in existence. The Dagoty brothers, who employed over a hundred workers, also built three warehouses and set up four storerooms, one of which was richly ornamented with mirrors and decorative shelves. Dagoty porcelain found its way not only to the dining rooms of the local bourgeoisie, but also to such illustrious residences as the castle of Compiègne, the palace of Versailles, and the White House in Washington, D.C. The fifth President of the United States, James Monroe, commissioned a Dagoty china for use at official service featuring a patriotic American eagle motif state dinners at the Maison-Blanche.

The constellation of buildings on the rue de Chevreuse, designed for porcelain manufacture, turned out to be well-suited for educational purposes. In 1834, the site became the home of the Keller Institute, the first Protestant school established in France since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Well-to-do French Protestants and visiting foreigners sent their children to the renowned Institute. In 1865, for instance, Charles King, President of Columbia College, enrolled his son there while the family toured Europe. In 1886, the seventeen-year-old André Gide came to live at the "Pension Keller, rue de Chevreuse," an experience that he later described in Si Le Grain Ne Meurt. The Keller Institute closed its doors in 1893.

The property then came to the attention of the wealthy philanthropist and social activist Elizabeth Mills Reid, daughter of the founder of the Bank of California, Darius O. Mills, and the wife of the American plenipotentiary minister to Paris, Whitelaw Reid.

Mrs. Reid became interested in the site on the rue de Chevreuse since she knew of the Keller Institute and was aware that nearby, on the rue Paul Séjourné, a group of American men artists lived in a club which enabled them to enjoy the benefits of Parisian cultural life. Mrs. Reid wanted to make such a cultural sojourn accessible to young American women artists as well. Thus the "American Girls Club" was born.

The club was a great success. In 1913, Mrs. Reid bought a neighboring property and constructed the annex, which included seven artist studios looking out onto the garden. This is the building which now houses the Columbia University Institute for Scholars. Mrs. Reid also built the Grande Salle, which is still used for lectures and exhibitions, to link the new and old buildings.

During World War I, Mrs. Reid transformed the property into a hospital. The Maison Verte, now a classroom, was originally built as a clinic for wounded soldiers. After the Armistice, the site remained in the hands of the American Red Cross until 1922. At that time, a group of American women, "The Ladies" as Mrs. Reid called them, presented a project to establish a residential center for university women. Mrs. Reid's daughter-in-law, Helen Rogers Reid, who was educated at Barnard College and later became President of the New York Herald Tribune, supported the project. "The Ladies" who signed the founding agreement with Mrs. Reid included Helen Rogers Reid, Virginia C. Gildersleeve (Dean of Barnard College), M. Carey Thomas (founder of Bryn Mawr College), and three other women educated at Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley. Dorothy Leet, a graduate of Barnard College, was named director of the center now called "Reid Hall".

During the 1920s and 1930s, Reid Hall welcomed numerous women students, artists, and professors. The French Association of University Women (AFFDU), which is the national branch of the International Federation of University Women (FIFDU), became a member of Reid Hall in 1922. French scholars, civil servants, and intellectuals came to the Franco-American center to introduce students to the study of French theater, literature, and art, and to debate major questions in French political life.

Nadia Boulanger was among these guest lecturers. Rigorous study within Reid Hall was complemented by the rich cultural atmosphere of Montparnasse. In the 1930s, the Vavin neighborhood was dominated by four major cafés, Le Dome, La Rotonde, Le Select, and La Coupole, which were home to an international and multi-disciplinary group of artists.

This other "School," made up of café and artistic society, co-existed with the more traditional schooling students received at Reid Hall. Yet, sometimes, the two worlds intersected. For example, in 1931, Gertrude Stein was invited to the end-of-the-year party by an artist living in one of Reid Hall's studios. Dorothy Leet reported that "the young students were delighted to have this opportunity to talk to [Stein]," who had never been formally attached to Reid Hall.

During World War II, the Franco-American center closed its doors and the site became a refuge, first for Polish university women, then for Belgian teachers, and later for the women students of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Sèvres. After the war, Dorothy Leet, Virginia Gildersleeve, and other long-time friends of Reid Hall took the site back and rebuilt a university center, which now accepted men as well as women students.

In 1964, Reid Hall was bequeathed to Columbia University. Several of Columbia's professors, notably Wm. Theodore de Bary, Bert M-P. Leefmans, and Robert O. Paxton, helped with the transition. In 1975, Danielle Haase-Dubosc, educated at Barnard College and Columbia University, became the director.

Today, the hall is headed by both Danielle Haase-Dubosc and Brunhilde Biebuyck, director of the Columbia-Penn programs in Paris.
Thanks to the active and enlightened direction of many women and men, Reid Hall has maintained and developed its educational and cultural vocation. It welcomes students as well as professors, young scholars as well as confirmed intellectuals, artists as well as art critics. The spirit of Reid Hall remains that of sharing, exchange, and the transmission of knowledge. 
Article and pictures from Reid Hall Official site:

- Academic Year Abroad (Director : Paule Schneersohn) 
- Association Française des Femmes Diplômées des Universités (AFFDU) (President : Evelyne d'Auzac) 
- Columbia University Programs (Director : Brunhilde Biebuyck) 
- Columbia University Architecture Program (Director : Patrick O'Connor) 
- Dartmouth College (Director: Vivan Kogan) 
- EPI, EHESS (Director:Nilufer Göle) 
- EUSA, Internships program (Director: Julie Bitaud) 
- Hamilton College (Director: Cheryl Morgan) 
- Hollins College (Director: Audrey Stavrévitch, on leave; Acting Director: Mary-Ange Payet) 
- University of Florida at Gainesville (Director: Gayle Zachmann) 
- Sarah Lawrence (Director: Monique Middleton) 
- Smith College (Director: Robert Dorit) 
- Southern Methodist University (Director: Isabelle Roynier) 
- University of Delaware (Director: Viviane Akoka) 
- University of Kent, England (Director:Peter Read) 
- Vassar-Wesleyan (Director : Patricia Célérier)


© Reid Hall 
Reid Hall's courtyard - © Reid Hall 

© Reid Hall
Reid Hall's Library - © Reid Hall

© Reid Hall
Students in Reid Hall - © Reid Hall


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