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The Shaw estate stands as a good example, particularly in its proximity to Boston, of the desire and ability of the wealthy--if not eccentric--Shaw family to build this estate. The buildings seek to recreate an English full manor house and outbuildings. The designs are an adaptation of that era to English/baronial roots writ larger by the late nineteenth century American wealth. While extravagant in their original purpose, the buildings have a level of quality, grace, and grandeur that simply cannot be repeated in this day and age. The grandeur of that era, however, was not sustainable, as evidenced by the college's ability move to the Shaw Estate during the Depression. The Shaw fortune had collapsed and the whole economy could not support such living. As a result, the college took as its new base an estate that was vacant and had gone into decay. The opportunity to transform these grand buildings, Shaw Hall in particular, into the basis of the Mount Ida campus is one of the important factors in the history and uniqueness of the college. It is important that these buildings be maintained and showcased not only for their significance to the college, but as examples of a grand architectural, historical, and cultural, era now past.
From Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory:
Mount Ida School for Girls was begun in 1899 by George Franklin Jewett in Newton Corner. It was located in houses on Bellevue and Summit Streets and took its name from the hill, Mount Ida, on which it stood. Mount Ida introduced junior college level courses in 1907, becoming one of the first schools in the country to do so. The school ran into financial difficulties in the twenties and was forced to close in the Depression. In 1939, Dr. William Fitts Carlson bought the Mount Ida School and moved it to the present location in Oak Hill. The new site was the 19th century estate of William Summer Appleton, which after the death of Appleton was acquired by Robert Gould Shaw and renamed "Boulder Farm." The old Appleton House is said to have been demolished in 1916. A new house, designed by Boston architect J. Lovell Little Jr., was built in 1912 by Shaw, and this building became Shaw Hall, the nucleus for the new Mount Ida campus. In 1956, a two story dormitory, designed by architect Albert C. Rugo of Milton, was added to Shaw Hall. Additional buildings, built in the 1950s and 1960s were also designed by Rugo.