Hunnewell Cottage // 1881

This home on the original Hunnewell Estate was built by Horatio Hunnewell as a summer home “for the use of any of the members of our family who may be tempted to occupy it”.

Scholars note the home as one of the first true Queen Anne structures built in the United States. It features a stone first floor with a superstructure of wood and half-timbering. The irregular massing and off center chimneys are also marks of the style. It was designed by architect Charles Brigham, a prominent Boston architect.

“The Pines” // 1894

Originally built in 1891 by Horatio Hunnewell as a gift for his daughter, this mansion was known as “The Pines” due to the massive pine trees surrounding the estate.

The house burned in 1893, and while the fire was raging, Mr. Hunnewell yelled to firefighters “Save the trees, we can always build another house!” Many of the trees were saved. He spared no expense to rebuilt a new home for his daughter, larger than the original of course. The home was designed by Shaw & Hunnewell, architects the latter was Mr. Hunnewell’s son. It remained in the family until 1970 when it was purchased by Wellesley College.

Wellesley Farms Railroad Station // 1890

Designed by two of the greatest designers of the time, H.H. Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted, this tiny train station was (until fairly recently) under threat from demolition.

The depot was a stop on the Boston & Albany railroad designed the year of the world-renowned architect’s death, but not built until 1890. The train depot was a stop on the Boston and Albany Railroad and is constructed out of Milford granite and Longmeadow sandstone trim. Frederick Law Olmsted designed the landscaping around the depot, which includes a tranquil pond. This site is one of a few remaining designs where Richardson and Olmsted collaborated on a project. 

The depot suffered a large fire in 1969, which destroyed the interior. After the fire, the town of Wellesley purchased the building for $2,000. Shockingly, the board of selectmen then voted to demolish the building. Large public protests occurred and preservation won! 
The depot was restored and now is a commuter train station with the MBTA. 

Wellesley College- Jewett Arts Center // 1958

One of the most stunning buildings in the Boston area is the Jewett Arts Center at Wellesley College.

The main architect of Jewett Arts Center was Paul Rudolph (1918-1997) who
studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) where he received his Master of Architecture in 1947. Rudolph served as Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University where he designed several buildings including the Yale Arts and Architecture School in his signature corduroy concrete.

Jewett was built to replace the Farnsworth Art Building which had been
constructed in 1889 and was reaching its capacity in the early 1900s.
As early as 1923 Ralph Adams Cram, supervising architect to Wellesley
College was asked to plan a fireproof addition to the Art Building.
From 1950 more discussions about additions to Farnsworth occurred and
several schemes were considered, but they landed on the construction of a new building which would frame out the Academic Quad.

George Frederick Jewett pledged the necessary funds to construct an arts
center in 1954. At that time his wife, Mary Cooper Jewett ’23, was a Trustee
of the College. Jewett’s initial contribution was for an arts building; he learned of the need for a music facility as pledge to include an arts center of two parts: an arts building for his wife, and a music building in memory of his mother.

The main exterior material of the Arts Center is brick, matched in color to the brick of the surrounding structures. Rudolph considered structural
elements and scale to create the appropriate embellishment. The quad can be entered by a sheltered approach through the building with cantilevered stairs on the sides. A staircase opens to the quadrangle and acts as a picture frame for the historic structures surrounding.

One of the wings on the building, which was intended as art studios on the upper floors, called for larger expanses of windows for increased natural light. The addition of brise-soleils adds texture architecturally and functionality for the interior spaces.

Wellesley College- Green Hall // 1931

Ca. 1934 image of Green Hall from the east. Courtesy of Wellesley Digital Collections

The tallest landmark on the Wellesley College campus is Hetty H. R. Green Hall. The building is an excellent example of Gothic Revival architecture, specifically “Collegiate” Gothic which was popular in educational campuses in the early 20th century.

Plans for the Administration Building were developed in 1918, but it was another decade before the Board of Trustees considered the construction of the building. The building was designed by Frank Day and Charles Klauder.

Green Hall was financed with donations made by Hetty Sylvia Ann Howland Green Wilks (what a name) of New York and Edward Howland Robinson Green of Texas in memory of their mother Hetty Howland Robinson Green. The agreement was that each would contribute $50,000 per year for five years if the College would construct a building to be known as Hetty H.R. Green Hall. This agreement was made in 1923, thus the funds were not available until 1928 and the College was responsible for raising the additional funds to complete the construction .

The building has design features which are synonymous with Gothic Revival architecture. The lancet doors and windows, decorative buttresses, and reliefs in the stone around the entrances. The structure frames the eastern boundary of the Academic Quad, with the Modern, and just as iconic, Jewett Auditorium to its west.

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.

Wellesley College- College Hall // 1875-1914

College Hall full view ca. 1880 image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

The first building at Wellesley College, College Hall, was built in 1875 to house students, faculty, staff, classrooms, laboratories, art, and more, all in a single monumental structure. Perched atop a steep hill above Lake Waban, the monstrous Second Empire complex was among the largest buildings in the United States when it opened.

College Hall ca. 1880 image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

The inspiration to build College Hall most likely came from studying two of the most well-known and highly regarded women’s colleges at the time: Mount Holyoke Seminary and Vassar College, where each of their campuses was dominated by one large building containing nearly all of the classrooms, dormitories, and administrative offices.

College Hall ca. 1880 image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

The Second Empire building was designed by architects Hammatt Billings and his brother, Joseph Edward Billings who together created the firm Billings & Billings. The brothers worked out of an office in Boston and designed many prominent buildings in the state, many of which are no longer extant.

1908 photo taken by Detroit Publishing Company

On March 17, 1914 at at about 4:30 AM a fire started in the building. In only four hours, almost the entire building was reduced to rubble. Shockingly, everyone escaped the fire alive! The only part of the building that survived the blaze was a small two-story wing that housed the kitchen. It was separated from the rest of College Hall by a fire-door, which was installed to prevent fires from spreading beyond the kitchen. The cause of the fire has never been determined.

College Hall during 1914 fire, image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.
College Hall 1914 fire damage, image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

By the fall of 1915, only a year and a half after the fire, the first new building, Tower Court, had been built on the site of College Hall. Others on campus would soon follow, spread out in large part to minimize the possibility of another thoroughly devastating fire. Five columns were salvaged from the wreckage and later installed along a walkway near the steps to Tower Court’s quadrangle. They were planned with a plaque donated by the class of 1917, which reads “The last class to know the original Wellesley College”.

Interior of College Hall. Ca. 1900 image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.
Detail of damage from College Hall fire 1914, image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.
Columns from College Hall above Lake Waban were re-installed at the walkway in front of Tower Courts, photo 2020.

Wellesley College Library // 1909, 1958 & 1975

The Margaret Clapp Library at Wellesley College exemplifies the evolving architectural tastes and demands for institutional growth.

Original library building, photo taken 2020.

The original library building is a small t-shaped structure constructed of Indiana limestone with symmetrical front facade. The Renaissance Revival building designed by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge was completed in 1909. The library displays a broad facade with a slightly projecting central bay with central entry, engaged columns and pilasters,
horizontal bands of Greek ornamentation and large casement windows. The style was very common for colleges after the turn of the century and was popular at institutions all over the region.

1910 photo taken by Detroit Publishing Company.
Reading room in original library building, 1930. Courtesy of Wellesley College archives

By the completion of the library, it was already too small. The college immediately added onto the rear of the library. After WWII, the college grew much larger and the library was becoming too tight for the growing collections and students on campus. The firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson & Abbott, who commanded many collegiate commissions at the time, were hired to nearly double the square footage of the building.

1958 addition which extends to roughly the tall hedge (later addition continues on).
Photo taken 2020

The 1958 addition is constructed of concrete pre-cast panels and glass which blends in with the Indiana limestone of the original building, yet is clearly modern. In 1974 while the last addition was underway, the Board of Trustees at Wellesley College voted to name the Library after the eighth President, Margaret Clapp who had recently died. Thus it was dedicated with the 1975 addition, also designed by Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, & Abbott as the Margaret Clapp Library. The 1972 additions are located on the end of the west and east wings, the western being the most dramatic for its location above a circular reflecting pool and concrete brise soleils.

1975 addition, photo taken 2020
1975 addition detail, photo taken 2020
Architectural model ca. 1970 showing complete library design. Photo courtesy of Wellesley Digital Archives.

Wellesley College- Music Hall // 1881

Front facade, photo taken 2020.

One of the most stunning buildings on Wellesley College’s campus is Music Hall, built in 1881. The hall is surrounded by the Clapp Library to the west, the Houghton Memorial Chapel to the north, and Tupelo Point to the south.

ca.1881 photo from Wellesley College Digital Collections

Designed by the renowned architectural firm of Ware & Van Brunt, the building was financed by Henry Fowle Durant, the college’s founder. Mr. Durant gave the architects minimal design guidelines; the most notable were that Music Hall should be built on solid ground and that it should be close to College Hall and Stone Hall, but far enough away so the noise from recitation rooms would not interfere with academic and administrative activities in the other buildings.

Photo taken 2020.

The red brick building sits atop a granite foundation and features decorative terra-cotta trim. Two stunning turrets extend the height of the building and are capped with conical roofs. In the central bay between the turrets, the main entrance sits recessed behind an arched opening. I would consider this building as “Chateauesque” in style for its proportions, recessed and protruding planes, and massive conical towers which dominate the facade.

Detroit Publishing Company photograph ca. 1905

By the turn of the 20th century, the College desired an auditorium that was larger than the one presently in College Hall, yet smaller than the 900-person space in the new chapel across the street. Caroline Hazard, the president of Wellesley College at the time hired Providence-based architects Angell and Swift, who had recently completed “Oakwoods”, her residence at the college. The Gothic Revival addition, known as Billings Hall, features similar materials and design features, yet the massing and style clearly distinguish it as a later addition.

Billings Hall. Photo taken 2020

Wellesley College- Shakespeare Society House // 1899

Walking around the campus of Wellesley College evokes feelings of Tudor England, with the large trees, birds chirping and English Revival architecture perfectly sited to fit its surroundings.

2020 photo

The Shakespeare Society at Wellesley College formed in 1877, Shakespeare Society is the oldest student organization on the campus.
The Shakespeare Society was founded by Henry Fowler Durant and
immediately turned over to faculty member, Louise M. Hodgkins, who
joined Wellesley College in 1877. By 1879, the Society had become a
branch of the Shakespeare Society of London.

ca.1900 postcard showing Shakespeare House, from Wellesley College Digital Collections

The purpose of the Shakespeare Society was to develop a systematic study of Shakespeare as a means of mental development. From 1889 to 1912, a Shakespeare play was presented at Wellesley’s graduation. The Society continues to perform plays each spring for students and the public.

The Shakespeare House was built in 1899 from designs by Charles K. Cummings. The architectural style was likely chosen to emulate Shakespeare’s birthplace in the Tudor cottage vernacular. A plan was developed by the Society and rules were established regarding furnishings, and the Elizabethan style was chosen.