Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Haystack Monument in Mission Park

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: Williams College
Original/Historic Place Name: Haystack Monument in Mission Park
Location on Campus: Mission Park Rd.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1867dedication Unknown
Type of Place: Landscape site
Type of landscape–
Small-scale features:
Monument within park-like setting.
Other characteristics:
Materials: marble
1867-present (2007)memorial site

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

The Haystack Monument in Mission Park stands as a tribute to the work of American missionaries. (Some would like to equate this work to the current efforts of global aid volunteers.) In 1806, a group of Williams students met beneath a haystack to discuss theological issues and here pledged themselves to serving as missionaries abroad. Foremost among these students was Samuel J. Mills (1783-1818). With others, Mills convinced the General Association of Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts to form the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1810.

In 1854, one of the Haystack alumni returned to Williamstown and marked the location of the students' prayer site. A year later, a group of Williams alumni purchased the surrounding land and soon incorporated the Mission Park Association for the purpose of "improving the grounds...and of erecting and placing thereon suitable monuments and other memorials, to commemorate the origin and progress of American Missions." In 1866, funds were donated to erect a memorial, and the twelve-foot high monument was dedicated by Mark Hopkins following the Baccalaureate Discourse on July 28, 1867.

Since this time, Williams has hosted anniversaries of the Haystack Prayer Meeting, drawing missionaries and other participants from around the world.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Lewis, R. Cragin, ed. Williams 1793-1993: A Pictorial History. Williamstown, MA: Williams College Bicentennial Commission, 1993.

Rudolph, Frederick. Mark Hopkins and the Log: Williams College, 1836-1872. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956.

Rudolph, Frederick. Mark Hopkins and the Log: Williams College, 1836-1872. Reprint, with an appendix by the author, "Williams College 1793-1993: Three Eras, Three Cultures," Williamstown, MA: Williams College, 1996.

Spring, Leverett Wilson. History of Williams College. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1917.

Stoddard, Whitney. Reflections on the Architecture of Williams College. Williamstown, MA: Williams College, 2001.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections

Contact us / About Site / About CIC
© 2006
Council of Independent Colleges
One Dupont Circle, Ste. 320
Washington, DC
All rights reserved
Last update: November 2006