Key & Seal was founded in 1904 and started its existence in the Carroll
House, a handsome three-
clapboard building on Nassau Street.
Once again, an eating club took over a structure designed for domestic use and transformed it for its own purposes. The building was therefore not designed to project, through architectural style, a particular institutional image, but rather was representative of late 19th-century domestic architecture in Princeton Borough.
As early as 1910, Key & Seal was endeavoring to move to Prospect Avenue,
to the empty lot just east of Charter Club. The first proposal is known through
the Class of 1911 Bric-a-Brac (1909-10), which reproduced a drawing of
This structure bears a strong resemblance to Raleigh Gildersleeve's Elm Club of 1900, an Italianate Revival design.
The next proposal, which was reproduced in the Class of 1914 Bric, was a
far more compact and contained structure that drew on Colonial and Greek
The entrance incorporates pairs of tall Corinthian- style pilasters and a large pediment that breaks through the roof's balustrade. Although the choice of wood speaks to economy in materials, this is an elegant, refined design.
What was actually built, however, was a much simplified version of this
design, on a domestic scale. It discarded the pilasters and pediment and much
of the ornamentation that marked the previous version.
The first photograph of this structure appeared in the Class of 1915 Bric- a- Brac; the following year, the Bric showed a side view of the clubhouse, which reveals an extensive porch to the rear and a round room projecting to the east. This picture also captured the newly completed Charter Club.
In the early 1920s, Key & Seal began the process of building a new
clubhouse that would be more in keeping with the stone and brick structures
that now lined Prospect Avenue. The first proposal was submitted by D.R.
Everson, and was reproduced in the Class of 1924 Bric.
This design, with its arched entrance and oriel windows, is instantly recognizable as being in the Collegiate Gothic tradition. Once again, however, the initial design was discarded in favor of a later proposal.
In 1925, Key & Seal commissioned Walter H. Jackson of New York to design a
new brick clubhouse in the Collegiate Gothic style. Jackson delivered a
successful design whose exterior blended well with the other clubs, while the
interiors had a comfortable, intimate feel.
Key & Seal's front elevation is dominated by three large arched windows that overlook the entrance porch. A polygonal dormer over the center of these arches helps balance the off- center door, which stands to the left of the arches as you enter. The two- story bay window on the west side of the facade, which echoes the protruding eastern wing of the building, also helps the overall balance of masses and voids.
Key & Seal folded in 1968. The University acquired the building and renovated it extensively before opening it as Stevenson Hall, a university- operated upperclass dining facility.