Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst (1894)

The Unitarian Universalist Church at 121 North Pleasant Street in Amherst was built in 1894. As related in Hitchcock’s Handbook of Amherst (1894), “The Universalist Society, organized November, 1887, has erected a new church building here. The services were held in Masonic Hall pending the erection of the church, and the Rev. J. H. Holden is pastor.” The Arts and Crafts style building contains stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge.

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Johnson Chapel, Amherst College (1827)

Johnson Chapel was the fourth building to be constructed on the campus of Amherst College, following South College, North College and the first President’s House. Work on Johnson Chapel, which was constructed by builder Hiram Johnson, began in 1826 and the building was dedicated on February 28, 1827. It was named Johnson Chapel in honor of Adam Johnson of Pelham, whose bequest funded its construction. In addition to the chapel, the building originally contained a museum, library, laboratory and recitation rooms. Johnson Chapel was renovated in 1863 (at a cost equal to that of its original construction) and again in the 1920s. The Chapel, whose front had been on the west side, was extended forty feet to the east in 1933, with a new main facade now facing the Freshman Quad. When Johnson Chapel was first built, there was a legal dispute over Adam Johnson’s will. Read More

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Amherst College President’s House (1834)

The house of the President of Amherst College was built in 1834-1835. An earlier house, built in 1821-1822, had been considered too damp and unhealthy, so the current house was then built on higher ground, across South Pleasant Street from the main campus buildings. The house, originally designed in the Greek Revival style by Warren Slade Howland, was remodeled in 1891 and again in 1932, with a Georgian Revival style entryway on the north side. The above picture was taken while the most recent renovations on the house were underway this past summer.

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Old First Baptist Church, Amherst (1835)

The building at 79 South Pleasant Street in Amherst was built in 1834-1835 as the First Baptist Church. The Baptist Society in Amherst began in 1827 as a branch of the New Salem Baptist Church, becoming a branch of the Northampton Baptist Church in 1830. It became an independent organization in 1832. The South Pleasant Street church, designed by Warren S. Howland, was used by the First Baptist Church until 1957, when it moved to a new location at 434 North Pleasant Street. The former church was then used as offices and retail space and was acquired by Amherst College in 2009.

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Luke Sweetser House (1835)

About 1835, house designer and builder Robert Cutler constructed the house at 81 Lessey Street in Amherst for Luke Sweetser. As described in The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts, Vol. I (1896):

Leonard Dwight and H. Wright Strong conducted a general store in Amherst prior to 1812; in April of that year, the partnership was dissolved and a new one formed by Strong and Elijah Dwight. H. Wright Strong was in business in 1815; his store stood on the site now occupied by Adams’ drug-store. In 1824, Luke Sweetser, who had been for three years in Mr. Strong’s employ, bought out the business, continuing it under his own name until March, 1830, when his brother, J. A. Sweetser, became associated with him under the firm name of L. & J. A. Sweetser. A few years later, J. A. Sweetser severed his connection with the firm and William Cutler and Luke Sweetser formed a partnership under the firm name of Sweetser & Cutler. In 1848, George Cutler became a member of the concern, the name being changed to Sweetser, Cutler & Co. Mr. Sweetser retired from the business in 1857, and the Cutler brothers continued it under the firm name of W. & G. Cutler. The firm of Geo. Cutler & Co. was formed in 1870 and continued in business until 1884, when it was succeeded by the present firm of Jackson & Cutler.

Sweetser, who after his retirement from business focused on farming, died in 1882 and his house became the Oak Grove School for girls. After 1903, it was the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house and was remodeled by architect Karl S. Putnam in 1929 with a monumental columned Greek Revival portico. When Amherst College abolished fraternities in 1984, the house became a dormitory called Marsh House, named for Eli Marsh, a professor of Physical Education and member of Phi Gamma Delta.

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Stearns Steeple (1873)

A striking landmark on the campus of Amherst College is Stearns Steeple, which stands in front of the Mead Art Museum. It is the only surviving part of the College Church, built in 1873. A gift of William F. Stearns, son of College president William A. Stearns, the Gothic church was designed by William A. Potter of New York. The Steeple’s bells, cast in 1871, were given by George Howe as a memorial to Amherst men lost in the Civil War. Stearns’ gift required that the building only be used for religious purposes, but Sunday services were transferred to the College Chapel in 1933 and discontinued in 1946, with the result that the church was no longer used regularly. It was razed in 1949 to make way for new buildings, although the steeple was spared as a monument to the church. To become a freestanding structure, the steeple was enclosed using materials from the demolished church.

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Kirby Memorial Theater (1938)

Kirby Memorial Theater at Amherst College was built with funds from a charitable trust set up by Dr. Ellwood R. Kirby (1854-1920). Kirby, a Philadelphia physician, is depicted administering anesthetic to the surgery patient in Thomas Eakins 1889 painting The Agnew Clinic. The Theater was built in 1938-1939 and was designed by James Kellum Smith of McKim, Mead & White, with the help of S.R. McCandless, a theater designer. The James W. Boyden House, which had served as a college boarding house and cafeteria, was moved from the site in 1937 to 58 Woodside Street to make way for the Theater.

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