About the Center

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Campus History

The Beginning

The Center circa 1968

In the summer of 1966 the Stroud Water Research Center began its existence in a hastily cleared space above Joan and Dick Stroud’s garage. The original building of the Stroud Water Research Center was completed in early 1968. It housed seven research laboratories, a library/seminar room, offices, technical staff areas and storage space.

Within six years, the research programs had outgrown their original walls, and additional space was required for graduate and post-doctoral students who wanted to work at the Center. In addition, classrooms and a large lecture room were needed to teach courses the senior scientists offered through nearby universities, to host scientific meetings and to reach the general public through a proposed lecture series. When the additions were completed in late 1976, the Center had adequate space to offer courses to university students, provide opportunities for professional groups to come and learn about new research findings, and host a public lecture series which featured distinguished scientists discussing significant environmental issues.

The Center circa 1996

Growing With the Science

Seventeen years later it became clear that the growing research and education programs had again outgrown their space. Laboratories for invertebrate biology and toxicology studies were added, storage areas for collections and office space for visiting scientists were enlarged, a new teaching laboratory was designed for school groups, the meeting room was expanded to hold 175 people comfortably and a lunch room was added.

When the new areas were opened in October 1996, the 24,820-square-foot facility was four times the size of the original building. The final project of this phase — a new streamhouse for both research and education — was dedicated in October 1999.

The Cabin

One of the most striking aspects of the Stroud Water Research Center is how well its design reflects the rural character and heritage of Chester County, a direction encouraged by the Stroud family. The building sits on the site of an 18th-century barn, whose original stone wall was incorporated into the first conference room. The architecture of the education center was taken from that of two Quaker meeting houses nearby. And what appeared to be a run-down house across the courtyard from the laboratory turned out instead to be a 1710 cabin whose log walls had been preserved as well as camouflaged by clapboard siding. It has been restored to its original style and now houses visiting scientists.

The result of all the building and renovation is a modern, well-equipped laboratory overlooking a gentle stream and situated on a country lane. It seems a place of contrasts — rustic in appearance yet sophisticated in operation, filled with art and devoted to science. Perhaps above all, it evokes a sense of warmth and comfort that is an ideal climate in which research can flourish.

View photos and descriptions of our research and educational laboratories »