Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Lower Campus (Chapman Campus)

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Institution Name: Wheaton College (MA)
Original/Historic Place Name: New Campus/ Richard P. Chapman Campus
Location on Campus: E. Main St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1957-1964original construction Rich, Howard L. Shurcliff, Sidney Shurcliff & Shurcliff
1977dedication Unknown
Type of Place: Building group
Style(s) of majority of buildings: Modern/post-WWII
Style(s) of minority of buildings: Beaux-Arts classicism
Building group type: Modern
Relationship to landscape:
none specified
Ideas associated with building group:
none specified
1957-present (2007)master plan (campus, lower)

Significance: architecture, culture, education, history, landscape
Landmark designation:
National RegisterNorton Center Historic District (1977)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Except for tennis courts, the Power Plant (1925), and Peacock Pond (1929), the lower area of campus was not developed until the Student Alumnae Building was extended into the space in 1940. Excavated from a marsh in 1929, Peacock Pond in its first years could be used for swimming, boating, and skating. Seniors first successfully floated their candles here in 1930. The Greek Metcalf Temple on the pond's western shore was constructed in 1935 using pillars from the porch of the original section of Old Metcalf Hall (original boarding house). A wooden bridge built in the 1930s was replaced with a cement bridge in 1957.

The Wheaton Trustees decided in October 1955 that the College should respond to the growing post-WWII demand for higher education by expanding enrollment from 535 to 850. They recommended using the land east of Peacock Pond for the needed construction, following the recommendation of Howard L. Rich of Rich & Tucker Associates, and Sidney Shurcliff of Shurcliff and Merrill, Landscape Architects. All buildings constructed at Wheaton between 1948 and 1966 were designed by Rich and Shurcliff, and placed according to the master plans they devised for the College from 1955 to 1972. Their plan incorporated modern design styles in its flexibility, its open plan taking advantage of views and sunlight, and its creation of groups of buildings that could be built one at a time without damaging the effectiveness of the group, and preserving and using the natural landscape to advantage. Their plan included three grouped dormitories, two new classroom buildings, two more dormitories, a dining hall and kitchen, and playing fields. Later, a new gymnasium, post office, a library wing, and science facilities were built, but these are not part of the Chapman Campus.

Modern buildings designed by Rich and Shurcliff during this period include: Young Hall (1957); a new Peacock Pond Bridge (1957); U.S. Post Office (1957, not on Chapman Campus); athletic fields and tennis courts (1958, tennis courts not on Chapman Campus); McIntire Hall (1959); Chase Dining Hall (Round, 1959, Square, 1964); Meneely Hall (1959, the first class-room building constructed at Wheaton since 1911); Clark Hall (1960); Watson Fine Arts Center (1962); Meadows Complex (1964); Clark Recreation Center (1965, not on Chapman Campus); Elizabeth Amen Nursery School (1966, not on Chapman Campus); and the Science Center (1968, not on Chapman Campus).

A bronze plaque set in a large rock placed outside Chase Round was dedicated on October 21, 1977 in honor of Mr. Chapman, who was a member of the board of trustees from 1939 to 1970, and its chairman from 1947 to 1964. He had overseen many additions to the campus, including all of the construction east of Peacock Pond. Mr. Chapman was the director of New England Merchants Bank and a trustee of many other institutions. The Chapman Campus includes all of lower campus, although there are several nineteenth-century houses used for faculty and student housing around its periphery.

In recent years, Wheaton has been improving the landscaping of Lower Campus, according to a plan by Sasaki Associates. Parking lots and excessive pavement have been removed, and replaced with additional lawns, terraces, walkways, and plantings. The edge of Peacock Pond, previously natural, has been faced with a stone retaining wall. Steps leading into the water at the eastern end form a launching ramp for the annual "Head of the Peacock" non-traditional boat race. A large parking lot at the southeast edge of the campus replaces the older lots. Keefe Field (1992) and Mirrione Field (women's soccer complex created from Elms Field in 2003) have drawn larger crowds to the athletic events on Lower Campus. Martin Sokoloff prepared the latest campus master plan.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Boulding, Christine, and Hope Phillips. Norton Center Historic District [including Wheaton College]. National Register of Historic Places nomination form. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1977.

Harvard Land Development Studio. Long-term Development Plan for the Wheaton/Norton Community. Spring 1988. Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

Helmreich, Paul C. Wheaton College 1834-1957: A Massachusetts Family Affair. New York: Cornwall Books, 2002.

Hill, Eunice Garland (W1931). "Expansion and Responsibility, 1965-1970: Reflections of an Alumnae Trustee upon her Retirement." Wheaton Alumnae Quarterly 49, no. 2 (Summer 1970): 14.

Howland, Dr. Joseph E. "Lessons in Landscaping: The Sidney N. Shurcliff Story." Southern Florist and Nurseryman (July 2, 1982): 11-21.

John Wacker & Associates, Inc. Land Use Study for Wheaton College. [s.l.: John Wacker & Associates], September 1985.

McCormick, Thomas J. "Wheaton College Architecture: Cram Versus the International Style." Society of Architectural Historians, 1982.

Meneely, A. Howard. "Building Has Started!" Wheaton Alumnae Quarterly 35, no. 4 (October 1956): 13.

Meneely, A. Howard. "Expansion as a Public Service." Wheaton Alumnae Quarterly 35, no. 1 (January 1956): 25-26.

Rich, Howard L. "Across Peacock Pond." Wheaton Alumnae Quarterly 35, no. 3 (July 1956): 2-3.

Rich and Tucker Associates, Architects. Study of Proposed Development, Wheaton College, Norton, Mass. Report. [Boston: Rich and Tucker Associates, Architects], 1969.

Sasaki Associates Inc. Planning and Landscape for the Wheaton College Campus, Report. [Watertown, MA: Sasaki Associates Inc.], March 1982.

Sasaki Associates Inc. Campus Master Plan: Upper Campus. [Watertown, MA: Sasaki Associates Inc.], 1987.

Sasaki Associates Inc. Wheaton College Master Plan: Composite Inventory Report. [Watertown, MA: Sasaki Associates Inc.], December 1987.

Sasaki Associates Inc. Wheaton College Master Plan: Executive Summary. [Watertown, MA: Sasaki Associates Inc.], March 1988.

Shurcliff and Merrill, Landscape Architects. Master Plan [Wheaton College (MA)]. Blueprint. [Boston: Shurcliff and Merrill, Landscape Architects], April 1963, rev. January 17, 1964.

Sasaki Associates. Preliminary Master Plan [Wheaton College (MA)]. Blueprint. [Watertown, MA: Sasaki Associates], February 1964.

Shurcliff and Merrill, Landscape Architects. Proposed Development Plan [Wheaton College (MA)]. Blueprint. [Boston: Shurcliff and Merrill, Landscape Architects], November 18, 1957, rev. October 1962.

Shurcliff and Merrill, Landscape Architects. Survey of Wheaton College. Blueprint. [Boston: Shurcliff and Merrill, Landscape Architects], June 1957, rev. Feb. 1963.

Shurcliff Merrill & Footit, Landscape Architects. Planning Booklet. [Shurcliff and Merrill, Landscape Architects, Boston, n.d.].

Simpson, Susan. "A Blueprint for the Future." Wheaton Alumnae Magazine (Spring 1988).

Stickney, Zephorene L. Architectural History of the Wheaton College Campus: History of Land and Building Acquisition. [Norton, MA.: s.n.], 1987, rev. 2002.

Stickney, Zephorene L. "Faces behind the Facades: Campus Development & Named Buildings at Wheaton College, Norton, MA." Online (2006). Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

Stickney, Zephorene L. Wheaton Imagined, Wheaton Realized: Twentieth Century Perspectives on Planning. Norton, MA: Wheaton College, February 1988.

Stickney, Zephorene L., and Sandra C. Davidson. Of All Our Immemorial Past: 150 Years at Wheaton. Norton, MA: Watson Gallery, Wheaton College, 1985.

"Trustees Plan New Buildings for Expansion." Wheaton Alumnae Quarterly 42, no. 2 (Spring 1963): 7.

"Wheaton Campus Listed Among Nation's Most Valuable Cultural Resources." Wheaton Alumnae Magazine (Fall 1983): 6.

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

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