Navigation

College Hall

College Hall: College Hall, Smith College’s first building, opened on July 14, 1875. Its dedication ceremony also celebrated the opening of the school and the inauguration of L. Clark Seelye as Smith’s first president. For years, College Hall was the only academic building. It originally comprised of a social hall, an art gallery (one of the first among American colleges), a reading room, a laboratory, seven recitation rooms, and offices for the President and Treasurer. When College Hall could hold the entire student body, it served every purpose other than living accommodations. As the student body grew and College Hall could no longer accommodate its size, more buildings were set aside for the school.

Architecture: College Hall was planned by Peabody and Stearns of Boston, which actually won a competition for the design of the building. The original construction cost $76,000 and began the spring of 1874. The building’s predominant style is Italian Gothic, although the architecture is somewhat eclectic. The outside is comprised of longmeadow brownstone with accents in white stone, copper finials, a French mansard roof, and pointed arches. The building features English Gothic decorative pier buttresses and pointed arches, medieval turrets and niches, classical columns, European quoins and string-courses, Greek fluting, and Palladian windows.

A long porch dubbed the “Crystal Palace” wrapped around the laboratory. It was called such because the porch area was enclosed by glass panels.

There were some lighting and acoustic problems when College Hall was first built – an issue that was addressed many years later during one of several renovations.

Major renovations: One of the major features of College Hall’s history is the renovations.

  • 1875 – College Hall opens. The science laboratory is built as a one-story wing, the reasoning behind this being that if the laboratory were to blow up, the damage to the rest of the building would be minimal. The “reception room” serves as the first library and it is also where students receive their mail. Social Hall is situated on the second floor which serves as the chapel, concert and lecture hall.
  • 1886 – Lilly Hall of Science is built, so the laboratory becomes the Reading Room.
  • 1890 – Social Hall, with an original capacity of 500 seats, is too small so an addition is made to increase the seating capacity to 900. This is accomplished by tearing down the one-story wing and replacing it with a two-story transept. The chapel is expanded to the West, which changes the exterior significantly. A three-bank organ is installed in Social Hall, which is soon renamed Assembly Hall.
  • 1901 – Once again, Assembly Hall is too small. The floor between the first and second stories is removed to make more room. This allows space for 500 more seats.
  • 1910 – John M. Greene auditorium is built, so the Assembly Hall is no longer necessary. The second floor that had been removed to enlarge Assembly Hall is reconstructed. Assembly Hall is then used for daily Chapel and formal social occasions.
  • 1914 – The Alumnae Association moves into the art gallery, which is reconfigured to make appropriate spacing for the Alumnae Secretary and the committee room.
  • 1917 – Electronic clocks and lighting systems are installed.
  • 1919 – The Dorothea Carlile Chime is installed in the College Hall tower.
  • 1922 – The Vocational Office takes three offices that were housed in a classroom. There is also some reconfiguration to ensure an office for each class dean.
  • 1924 – Major efforts are made to correct the lighting problem by removing unnecessary pillars and beams, and by painting the ceiling a cream color to reflect light. To improve the acoustics, sound-proof flooring is installed. In the same year, a telephone switchboard is installed.
  • 1938 – The Alumnae Association moves into their own building. Their previous offices in College Hall are taken by the class deans and the Admissions Office.
  • 1960-61 – The following offices move to Green St. (Alumnae/Gateway House): Smith College School of Social Work, Employment, Dietician, Director of Dormitories, and Student Councilors. This creates more space for Scholarships and Student Aid, News Office, and the Vocational Office.
  • 1976 – New bells for the Carlile Chime (called a carillon now with 47 bells) are cast in France to increase the range of the bells.

Dorothea Carlile Carillon: The Dorothea Carlile Carillon was installed in the College Hall tower in 1919 as was a gift from the parents of Dorothea Carlile, a Smith student. She died during her freshman year in 1918 from influenza. This chime was a memorial to Dorothea and first consisted of twelve bells. Over the years, relatives of Dorothea contributed additional bells and funds for the maintenance of the chime.

Lincoln, Eleanor Terry and John Abel Pinto. This, The House We Live In: The Smith College Campus from 1872 to 1982. Easthampton, MA. Pioneer Valley Printing Company, 1983.
Potter, Dorothy. “College Hall.” Box 16 Smith College Archives. 22 Buildings and Grounds
Lincoln, Eleanor Terry and John Abel Pinto. This, The House We Live In: The Smith College Campus from 1872 to 1982. Page 23. Easthampton, MA. Pioneer Valley Printing Company, 1983.
Tieldman, Sarah. “Architectural Report.” 1949. Box 16 Smith College Archives. 22 Buildings and Grounds
Wyman, Esther. “College Hall.” Box 16 Smith College Archives. 22 Buildings and Grounds
Lincoln, Eleanor Terry and John Abel Pinto. This, The House We Live In: The Smith College Campus from 1872 to 1982. Page 25. Easthampton, MA. Pioneer Valley Printing Company, 1983.
Raymond, Susan and Margaret Hart. Republican. 27 February 1935. Box 16 Smith College Archives. 22 Buildings and Grounds
, Wyman, Esther. “College Hall.” 1966. Box 16 Smith College Archives. 22 Buildings and Grounds.
, Lincoln, Eleanor Terry and John Abel Pinto. This, The House We Live In: The Smith College Campus from 1871 to 1982. Page 24. Easthampton, MA. Pioneer Valley Printing Press, 1983.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>