Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Barrett Hall

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Institution Name: Amherst College
Original/Historic Place Name: Barrett Gymnasium
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1859-1860original design as gymnasium Parkes, Charles E.
1907remodeled as academic department building Unknown
1995some structural renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone blocks
Walls: granite from Monson, MA (Pelham gneiss)
Roof: wood; slate
1907-present (2007)faculty offices (modern languages)
1907-present (2007)academic department building (modern languages)
1907-present (2007)classrooms (modern languages)

Significance: culture, history
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Constructed in 1859 as a gymnasium, this building was remodeled in 1907 to provide classrooms and offices for the departments of modern languages. There was some structural renovation in 1995. The original architect was Charles E. Parkes of Boston, and the contractor R. R. Myers of Northampton. The building was named for its largest donor, Dr. Benjamin Barrett of Northampton.

Amherst's Department of Hygiene and Physical Education, also begun in 1859, was the first formal Department of Physical Education in an American college, and Barrett was one of the earliest college gymnasiums. The key figure here was Edward Hitchcock Jr. (class of 1849), who was a pioneer in physical education and anthropometrics, advocating development of both mind and body. A legendary favorite among students, alumni, and faculty, he was known as "Doc " or "Old Doc " Hitchcock.

I. Bibliographic sources:

King, Stanley. The Consecrated Eminence: the Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College. Amherst, MA: Amherst College, 1951.

O' Connell, Kristin T. Barrett Hall [Amherst College]. Inventory report. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Commission, 1975.

Tyler, William S. A History of Amherst College During the Administrations of its First Five Presidents: from 1821 to 1891. New York: F. H. Hitchcock, 1895.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office

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