MG TODAY 365

Imbrie Pavilion
(designated as a nationally important cultural property)

Meiji Gakuin was opened at its current location in Shirokane on September 15, 1887 (Meiji 20). However, judging from the architecture, it seems that the school building of the Department of Comprehensive Studies, Sandham Hall (as an auditorium) and Hepburn Pavilion (as a boarding house of department of comprehensive studies) was already built by the time of the opening.

In addition to those buildings, new buildings were constructed in the Western style one after the other: three buildings in the North-West corner of the campus (the area where the high school building now stands), and two buildings in the South-East corner of the campus. The housing site of the missionaries who taught at the school at the time was far from the school; it became necessary to prepare residences for them at around the time the school first opened.

There is a paragraph in Shimazaki’s novel, Sakuranomino jukusurutoki (When cherries are ripe): “There are three Western style buildings lined up from the yard through the school campus to the auditorium over there. They are all housing for Sutekichi’s professors from America. I see wives of the professors walking around letting their white skirts billow in the cool breeze here.” The Western style buildings in this description were assigned numbers from 1 through 6. The building closest to the road in the West area was called House number 1, the next closest building to the road was called House number 2, and the building furthest from the road was called House number 3. The three buildings in the South-East corner were called Houses 4, 5 and 6.The odd- numbered houses were for the Presbyterian missionaries and the even numbered houses were for the reformist missionaries.

This building is so-called House number 5, though later it was called Imbrie Pavilion because it was occupied for a long time by Dr. W. Imbrie. This wooden, two-story house was built in approximately 1889 (Meiji 22) and has tile roofing. The 1st and 2nd floors combined measure 371 square meters (approximately 444.3 square yards). It also adopted the timbered housing style in architecture, following the trend in the U.S.A. during 1870’s. It was relocated to the current location due to Route 1’s widening project in 1964 (Showa 39). Restoration was completed in 1997.

The Imbrie pavilion, which represents well the Western-style missionary houses, is one of most precious architectural buildings in Japan. It was designated as a nationally-important cultural property in 1998.


Topics on Imbrie pavilion

  • Imbrie Pavilion has been designated as a nationally important cultural property
  • Charming Western Building, Imbrie Pavilion
    The University of Tokyo, School of Engineering, Professor Hiroyuki Suzuki
  • Architectural Characteristics of Imbrie Pavilion
    “Utilizing cultural assets” Yoshiharu Shimazaki from Uchii Shozo Architectural Design Office
  • Imbrie Pavilion as a Historical Building
    “The meaning of restoration of cultural assets” Koichi Takamura from The Japanese Association for Conservation of Architectural Monuments
  • Restoration of Imbrie Pavilion Q & A
  • History of Imbrie Pavilion
  • About William Imbrie