Lamont House opened in 1955 as a Smith College residence hall. Named for alumna Florence “Corliss” Lamont,” of the class of 1893, Lamont was created to accommodate Smith’s growing population and is among the newer houses on campus. It is located on Upper Elm, in close proximity to downtown Northampton and Center Campus. The dormitory houses 83 Smith students in 22 double rooms, 36 single rooms, and one triple room.
Florence “Corliss” Lamont
Lamont House was named for alumna Corliss Lamont. She received her B.A. from Smith in 1893 and eventually earned a M.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University. She married Thomas Lamont, graduate of Harvard University and banker, who served as a Trustee of Smith College from 1911-1925. The couple had four children: Thomas, Corliss, Austin, and Eleanor. The Lamonts enjoyed many trips abroad, attending a peace conference in Paris in 1918-1919, and Japan and China in the winter of 1919 to be present at the Chinese Consortium. Mrs. Lamont’s influence extended not only to the international community but also affected local institutions. She continued to participate in Smith’s affairs even as an alumna and presented the college with munificent donations. Smith’s fifth president Benjamin Fletcher Wright declared Mrs. Lamont to be the most generous benefactor of women’s colleges and of Smith College.
William and Geoffrey Platt built Lamont House. Its rectangular massing, brick walls, and white wooden trim invoke the Georgian architecture, which served as the building’s inspiration. An inviting white wooden portico marks the main entrance. The site, just below Northrop and Gillett houses along Prospect Street, dictated to a large degree the stylistic choice. The neo-Georgian dress was intended to provide a sense of order as was found in the Quadrangle. In 1994, renovations brought a new dining room to the back of Lamont House. The room, designed by Livermore and Edwards, enjoys exceptional light as it has many-paned windows. The dining room’s octagonal shape ties together traditional with modern.
Lamont’s designers incorporated many features that were considered quite modern at the time of the house’s opening. These technologies allowed for easy maintenance, and students and faculty alike found these features highly desirable. First floor included reception rooms, a control booth, wardrobes for students and visitors, toilets, a card room, apartments for Heads of House and resident faculty members, and an apartment for three resident maids. Although the structure has remained, first floor today enjoys a lobby area, living room, dining room, Head Resident suite, and a triple room. Each floor provides the students with a pressing room and a kitchenette. In attempt to relieve congestion in the individual students’ closets, a room was built with shelving for the storage of hand luggage. A typing room encouraged students to type in the basement instead of in their bedrooms, where the noise from typewriters could distract sleeping students. Lamont is one of the few houses with the fortune of having an elevator. Originally intended as a service elevator, students now have free access to it. In decorating students’ rooms, a scheme was worked out using four colors scattered throughout the floor in such a manner as to relieve the monotony that would have resulted had all the rooms been done in the same color. The doors to the students’ room and the closets in rooms were originally done in grayed birch finish, while all the doors leading to service rooms and stairways were painted bright Chinese lacquer red. An intercom speaker system, which connected the house, was quite popular. The living room was decorated as if it were a private residence, and students still use the homey quarters as a place for meeting, doing homework, or watching television.
Lamont residents participate in many house traditions. Students look forward to tea on Friday afternoons in Lamont’s living room. Additionally, residents come together every Wednesday for (pre)-study breaks. The house goes apple picking at a nearby orchard on Mountain Day. Residents also plan activities for Winter and Spring Weekend. Lamont students proudly consider themselves “Lamonsters” and chant assorted house cheers at events like convocation. When the house first opened, many students enjoyed playing bridge after lunch and dinner. Quiet hours have been observed since the 1950s, and, though they have changed, have usually been enforced by opening the door and yelling “Quiet hours!”