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Lafayette College to move historic College Hill house to make way for dorms

517 Clinton Terrace

Easton architect William Marsh Michler designed 517 Clinton Terrace in the early 1900s. The foundation has been removed in preparation for moving the house to 41 McCartney St. in Easton. Photo from July 23, 2021.Rudy Miller | For

Rather than tear down a historic house, Lafayette College will move it a block to make way for new dorms.

The home at 517 Clinton Terrace was designed in the early 1900s by Easton architect William Marsh Michler, according to the college. It will be preserved as part of a settlement with neighbors who opposed the construction of new dorms.

The dorms will go in the block bound by McCartney Street, Marquis Street, Clinton Terrace and March Street. To make room for them, the historic home will roll about a block over to its new resting place at 41 McCartney St.

The house was lifted by cables and its foundation removed in preparation for the move.

It’s scheduled to move at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4, the college said in a news release. The rain date is Aug. 5. The move is being handled by Aegis Property Group.

Once it’s in place the home will serve as a new, larger Portlock Black Cultural Center. It will need extensive renovations, including a wraparound porch, so it won’t be occupied until January 2022.

Michler designed many homes in the College Hill neighborhood. A Lafayette alumnus, he oversaw the reconstruction of Pardee Hall following the fire of 1897. Michler also designed the Herman Simon Mansion, Trinity Episcopal Church, the superintendent’s house at the entrance to the Easton Cemetery as well as the Zeta Psi fraternity at the college.

The historic home was rented by the Sigma Chi fraternity during World War I. A local fraternity, the Elms, lived there in 1931. The college bought the home on June 21, 1993.

The Portlock Center is named for David A. Portlock, a former Lafayette assistant dean of academics who played a pivotal role in leading Lafayette toward a more diverse and inclusive future.

Portlock helped create several programs at Lafayette, including the Black Cultural Center and the campus’ Association of Black Collegians. He also coordinated the study abroad program and was an adviser to student government.

The college plans to take down 15 buildings to make way for the 169-bed dorm, which also will include a wellness center. The college recently completed construction of a 165-bed dorm which includes the Trolley Stop diner and the college bookstore.

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Rudy Miller may be reached at