October 10, 2011

Name of new residence hall announced

The new residence hall under construction at Lewis & Clark will be named in honor of Edna Holmes, a central figure in the College’s history.

The new residence hall under construction at Lewis & Clark will be named in honor of Edna Holmes, a central figure in the College’s history. Located on the southern end of the undergraduate campus, Edna L. Holmes Residence Hall is slated to open in fall 2012.

Edna Holmes was instrumental in the creation of the Fir Acres estate and its sale to Lewis & Clark, and she served the College as a trustee for nearly half of her life.

“By naming the new residence hall after Edna Holmes, the College honors a tremendous contributor to our history,” President Barry Glassner said. “This exciting new addition to the campus deepens our appreciation for the enduring legacy of Edna Holmes and the Frank family, and ensures that Edna will always be remembered at Lewis & Clark.”

Edna Holmes and the creation of Fir Acres

A native of San Francisco, Edna moved to Portland in 1915 after marrying Lloyd Frank, a partner in the Meier & Frank retail company. During much of her marriage to Lloyd, she presided over the Fir Acres estate, which the couple developed on a 63-acre hilltop site. Designed by New York architect Herman Brookman and completed in 1925, the grand estate included a brick-and-slate Tudor-style manor house, greenhouses, stables, garages, and a swimming pool.

The estate’s gardens, which Edna oversaw, attracted amateur and professional gardeners from across the nation. The home and gardens are on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1933, Edna met W.H. “Ted” Holmes, an importer and exporter, who became her second husband. Edna and her children left Fir Acres in 1935.

Albany College acquires Fir Acres, becomes Lewis & Clark College

At roughly the same time, when the Depression threatened to crush tiny Albany College, trustees decided to offer classes in Portland. Enrollment grew so rapidly on the extension campus that, in 1938, the trustees voted to move all operations to Oregon’s urban center. Trustees persuaded Morgan Odell, a widely respected scholar of religion and philosophy, to assume the presidency of the institution in 1941.

The following year, through a gift-sale made possible by the generosity of Lloyd and Edna Frank and Lloyd’s brother, Aaron Frank, the trustees acquired the Fir Acres estate. To mark the transformation made possible by the acquisition of the estate, the trustees renamed the college Lewis & Clark, thereby grounding the future of the institution in a heritage of exploration and discovery.

The legacy of Edna Holmes at Lewis & Clark

Edna expressed joy in seeing her former beloved home become a college, beginning a warm and abiding relationship. She became a Lewis & Clark trustee in 1945 and served in that capacity for more than three decades. She was active in Portland civic circles, becoming the second president of the Oregon Junior Symphony Association, president of the Fruit and Flower Nursery, vice president of the League of Women Voters, and a member of many other boards. Edna continued to serve as a Lewis & Clark life trustee until her passing in 1990 at the age of 94.

More than 85 years after the Fir Acres estate was first formed, Edna L. Holmes Residence Hall will open on the southern end of the Lewis & Clark undergraduate campus.

The building will accommodate nearly 170 students. Features such as bicycle storage and storm-water management exemplify the project’s goal of attaining a LEED gold rating.

Learn more about the history of Lewis & Clark.