Brown University from its founding in 1764 until 1891 never admitted women. Brown’s all-male student body was first challenged in 1874, when the university received an application from a woman (who to this day is still unnamed). The Advisory and Executive committees decided that admitting women at the time was not a good proposal, but they continued to revisit the matter annually until 1888, when they began work to establish a separate women’s college affiliated with Brown. After similar institutions like Radcliffe (affiliated with Harvard) and Barnard College (affiliated with Columbia) were established in 1879 and 1889 respectively, Brown had a blueprint for how to operated the new women’s college. Professors at Brown would work alongside women educators and taught many of the the same courses to men as they did for female students. Pembroke Hall was the first building for Pembroke College and was built in 1896 from plans by local firm Stone, Carpenter and Willson in the Elizabethan Revival style. The building was designed to be multi-purpose with administrative offices, classrooms, reception rooms, and a library in the attic. Pembroke College was officially merged with Brown University in 1971, which was long overdue. The building is one of the finest on Brown’s now co-educational Ivy-league campus.
Thompson Hall – University of New Hampshire // 1892
The centerpiece of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) campus in Durham, is Thompson Hall, a stunning example of Romanesque Revival architecture. Thompson Hall was the first building to be built on the new campus of the New Hampshire College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts, which had been founded in 1866 as a land grant college and was previously located near Dartmouth in Hanover. Benjamin Thompson, a Durham farmer, died 1890, leaving an estate worth $400,000, with 253 acres (102 ha) of land, to the state for use as an agricultural school. The state accepted his gift, and construction of Thompson Hall began in 1891, with a landscape plan for the campus developed by the great Charles Eliot. The bold Romanesque building was designed by Concord, NH architects Dow & Randlett, who were among the most prestigious architectural firms in the state at the end of the 19th century. The building remains as a significant piece of UNH’s ever-growing campus.
Wellesley College- Music Hall // 1881
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wellesley College- Houghton Memorial Chapel
Historically, most colleges in New England and around the country featured a chapel for students, as many were religious and far from home.
The original chapel of Wellesley College was housed in College Hall from 1875. In 1887 a fund was established by the students to build a separate chapel that would hold the entire student body, which was rapidly growing from the 350 students in Wellesley College’s first graduating Class of 1879 to nearly 700 students in 1890.
At this same time, William S. Houghton, a businessman in Boston and a trustee to Wellesley College took notice and updated his will to provide funds to the students desire for a chapel. Just before his death, uncertain events occurred which caused him to alter his will, having most money go to his family. After his death, with his children understanding his desire to help Wellesley College, gave a $100,000 gift was for a chapel to be built on the College grounds, in memory of their father. The chapel was to be used only for religious and academic purposes for the succeeding twenty years. The Board of Trustee s appointed a Chapel Committee immediately to choose a site and run a competition for the design of the Chapel .
The architectural firm of Heins & LaFarge, of New York were later selected to design the new student chapel, in the Gothic Revival style to blend with existing 1890s structures on Norumbega Hill in the center of campus. Heins & LaFarge were Philadelphia-born architects, who located their office in New York, and are most notable for their collaboration with Ralph Adams Cram on the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan.
The chapel was dedicated in 1899 and is constructed of Amherst stone in the Greek cross plan. The structure is constructed upon a granite foundation, which is a harder stone that holds up to weathering at the water table.
The interior is notable for its open spaces with stained glass windows designed by John LaFarge and Louis Comfort Tiffany. There is also a bass relief inside designed by Daniel Chester French in memory of Alice Freeman Palmer, the first president of Wellesley College.