Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Fayerweather Hall

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Institution Name: Amherst College
Original/Historic Place Name: Fayerweather Laboratory
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1892-1894original design McKim, Mead & White Olmsted, Frederick Law, Sr.
1999-2000complete exterior renovation and interior remodeling Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone blocks
Walls: brick (solid walls with internal vents); terra cotta
Roof: wood; slate
1894-1928academic department building (chemistry and physics)
1928-1968academic department building (physics)
1968-2002other (student social rooms, snack bar)
1968-2002faculty offices
1968-2002theater (small)
1968-present (2007)academic department building (studios and storage for fine arts)
2002-present (2007)faculty offices (fine arts department)
2002-present (2007)classrooms

Significance: architecture, history, landscape
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Fayerweather was built between 1892 and 1894 with $100,000 from the estates of Daniel B. Fayerweather, a wealthy leather merchant. It is the first and perhaps the best of several buildings on the Amherst campus by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, noted especially for the Boston Public Library and Pennsylvania Station in New York City. William R. Mead (Amherst College class of 1887) played an active lifelong role in building the campus. He studied architecture with Russell Sturgis, Jr., while Charles F. McKim worked with H. H. Richardson, whose influence is apparent in the Fayerweather building.

The site for Fayerweather was chosen by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., who also did the landscaping. Olmsted had been consulted on other campus matters as early as 1864 and was awarded an honorary M.A. degree in 1867. In 1883 he was engaged to furnish a complete plan for the grading, roads, and walks of the college grounds. Complete exterior renovation and interior remodeling took place in 1999-2000.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Frederick Law Olmsted Collection. Archives and Special Collections, Robert Frost Library, Amherst College, Amherst, MA.

Gaines, Thomas A. The Campus as a Work of Art. New York: Praeger, 1991.

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

Page, Max. "Outdoor Classrooms: Five Schools in Massachusetts Vie for Attention by Hawking Their Wares--In Vastly Different Garb." Architecture 92 (October 2003): 21-22.

Tavener, Christopher. Fayerweather Hall [Amherst College]. Inventory report. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Commission, 2000.

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

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