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
The Elizabeth Cary Agassiz House, on the campus of Radcliffe College in Cambridge, was built in 1904 as the school’s student center. The building was named for the first president of Radcliffe, which is now part of Harvard University and is called the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Read More
The Seminary Building at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley was destroyed by fire in 1896. The following year, a chapel was built on the site, called Mary Lyon Chapel and connected to Mary Lyon Hall. The Chapel was renovated and much enlarged in 1938 with a donation from Emily Abbey Gill and was renamed Abbey Memorial Chapel. It was converted in 1999 into the Abbey Interfaith Sanctuary. Since 2009, the Chapel has been open to the public for weddings.
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.
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.
College Hall in Amherst was built in 1828-1829 as the third meeting house of the First Congregational Church of Amherst. It was built on land donated by Amherst College in return for the right to hold commencement and other ceremonies in the church. When a new Congregational church was built on Main Street in 1867-1868, the College purchased the old church building, which was expanded and remodeled (with the addition of new columns to the front) and rededicated in 1905. Read More
A fire destroyed the original seminary building of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley in 1896. One of the first new structures to be built after the fire was Porter Hall, a residence hall completed in 1897. Porter Hall was designed by C. Putnam Karr and was named for Deacon Porter, who was in charge of buildings on the College’s Board of Trustees and was a friend and adviser to the College’s founder Mary Lyon. Read More