Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Blanchard Campus Center

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Institution Name: Mount Holyoke College
Original/Historic Place Name: College Gymnasium
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1899-1900original construction Brocklesby, William C.
ca. 1955remodeled Unknown
ca. 1985remodeled Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: none specified
Walls: red brick (exterior); Longmeadow stone (exterior, trim); gray brick (interior walls)
Roof: none specified
ca. 1900-1955gymnasium
ca. 1955-1985other (post office)
ca. 1955-1985other (offices)
ca. 1985-present (2007)other (café)
ca. 1985-present (2007)student union

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

Physical education has always been an important part of the Mount Holyoke curriculum. Mary Lyon's earliest critics complained that educating women would have a negative impact on womanhood, especially the female ability to be mothers. For this reason, among others, nutrition and physical health were advocated for all students at the seminary. As the college began to expand, it was natural that a state-of-the-art gymnasium be part of the campus growth.

In 1898, Mount Holyoke College students clamored for a gymnasium, complaining in the Mt Holyoke, that, "It is at this time of the year when the long, dragging winter is before us that we realize, as at no other season, the need of a gymnasium where we can be furnished with mild excitement to wake us from the lethargy which books and essay-writing and laboratories throw over us. It is a pitiful sight to see a young girl losing her buoyancy, turning into a sedate, intellectual, never-to-be-endured type of humanity, because she has no means of developing the other side of her nature." The students formed a committee of ways and means to raise money for the gym. The college gymnasium , built in 1899, was noted at its construction for its state of the art ventilation system. N amed for Elisabeth Blanchard in 1950 (class of 1850 and Principal and President from 1883-1889) , it was later renovated into office space and a campus Post Office. In the mid 1980s it was renovated again to become a campus center that houses a café, campus information desk, mailroom, box office, and offices, as well as student organizations, including the Outing Club, Student Government, WMHC-FM Radio, Mount Holyoke News, and the yearbook.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Alaimo, Laura Ann. "Building Mount Holyoke College, 1896-1900." B. A. thesis, Mount Holyoke College Department of History, 1981.

Edmonds, Anne Carey. A Memory Book: Mount Holyoke College 1837-1987. South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College, 1988.

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

Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

Mount Holyoke College. The Centenary of Mount Holyoke College. South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College, 1937.

Mount Holyoke College. Memorial. Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Springfield, MA: S. Bowles & Company, 1862.

"Mount Holyoke College Historic Map Website." Online (1997). Archives and Special Collections.

Mt Holyoke (December 1898), 139-140.

Nutting, Mary O. Historical Sketch of Mount Holyoke Seminary. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1876.

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.

Schwartz, Robert, et al. "Historical Atlas of the Mount Holyoke College Campus." Online (2004). Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA.

Stow, Sarah D. Locke. History of Mount Holyoke Seminary, South Hadley, Mass., During its First Half Century. Springfield, MA: Springfield Printing Company, 1887.

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

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