Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Seelye Hall

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Institution Name: Smith College
Original/Historic Place Name: Seelye Hall
Location on Campus: 2 Seelye Dr.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1900original construction York & Sawyer
1993renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: stone; brick
Roof: slate
ca. 1900-present (2007)faculty offices
ca. 1900-present (2007)classrooms
ca. 1900-present (2007)other (academic offices, academic support programs)

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

In 1898 President L. Clark Seelye was overwhelmed by the generosity of an anonymous parent who pledged $50,000 for the creation of a new academic building to be named in Seelye's honor, in the hopes that others would match his gift. That building was the handsome Seelye Hall. The early Seelye Hall housed recitation rooms for students, private offices for teachers, dressing rooms on every floor, a faculty room where professors could take tea, and an airy rotunda library with radiating stacks boasting 44,000 volumes. In the February 1900 edition of the Smith College Monthly, a student was moved to write that "Seelye Hall is by far the best of our college buildings.'

Since then, Seelye has evolved through the years to meet the ever-changing needs of Smith's students and faculty. After the completion of the Neilson Library in 1910, the geology department moved its library and rock collection into Seelye Hall. At the time, the basement was known as the Seelye Note Room, which served as an informal center for classmates to leave or post messages to one another. Seelye Hall was renovated in 1993 and today houses classrooms, faculty offices, and academic support programs such as the Jacobson Writing Center.

Seelye's mysterious patron never identified himself.

I. Bibliographic sources:

The Historical Handbook of Smith College. Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1932.

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.

Lincoln, Eleanor Terry, and John Abel Pinto. This, the House We Live In: Smith College Campus from 1872-1982. Northampton, MA: Trustees of Smith College, 1983.

The Renovation of Seelye Hall. Report. Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1994.

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

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