Wellesley College- Tower Court // 1915

Tower Court, a U-shaped dormitory at Wellesley College, was built in 1915 on College Hall Hill, at the former location of College Hall which burned down a year prior. At the time, an anonymous donor required that any design for a dormitory complex here had to be planned before the first building could be constructed and the buildings were to be built of fire-proof construction. She also preferred the Gothic Style of architecture and requested it be designed in the style. Once these condition s were met, Ellen Stebbins James of New York, who had no connection to the college, donated $500,000 for the construction of Tower Court. Architects Coolidge and Carlson were also requested by the donor and selected by the College.

ca. 1916 photo of completed Tower Court dormitory. Courtesy of Wellesley College digital archives.
1973 aerial of Tower Court, courtesy of Wellesley College digital collections.

Following the fire in 1914 and the advice of a Faculty Committee, a
supervising architect had been appointed to review all plans of future
buildings. Frank Miles Day of Day and Klauder was the supervising
architect for one year, until 1916. At that time his firm became the
executive architects for the Academic Buildings on Norumbega Hill and
Ralph Adams Cram, a titan in Gothic Revival architecture became supervising architect, reviewing the plans for dormitories on College Hall Hill.

The contractor, J . W. Bishop and Company, was instructed to use
remnant building materials of College Hall whenever possible. Many of the
red bricks were reused as were granite stepping stones and foundation
stones, including the cornerstone. The convergence of the old and new was important to the symbolism of the planners.

The Great Hall in Tower Court ca. 1920. Courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

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