Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Massachusetts Hall

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: Bowdoin College
Original/Historic Place Name: Massachusetts Hall
Location on Campus: on historic quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1802original design Melcher, Aaron Melcher, Samuel, III
1936renovation Unknown
1941renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: asphalt shingle
ca. 1802chapel
ca. 1802museum (home of Cleveland Cabinet and Museum of Mineralogy and Natural History)
ca. 1802president's house
ca. 1802residence hall
ca. 1802classrooms
1820-1861other (Maine Medical School)
ca. 1936administration
ca. 1941administration
ca. 2004-present (2007)faculty offices
ca. 2004-present (2007)academic department building (English and religious studies)
ca. 2004-present (2007)classrooms (only one)

Significance: architecture, education
Landmark designation:
National RegisterMassachusetts Hall, Bowdoin College (1971)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Designed by Samuel Melcher III, the leading builder in the region during the early decades of the 19th century, Massachusetts Hall exemplifies the Federal Style, with its hipped roof, refined detailing at the main entry, roof edge and window surrounds, and the gracious proportions of the overall building. Massachusetts Hall, the first college building in Maine's first college, has had some interior renovation, but the exterior has not undergone a major rehabilitation. 1936 and 1941 renovations served to accommodate the college administration, faculty offices, and classrooms. Today, Massachusetts Hall houses offices of the English and Religion faculty.

Massachusetts Hall served all the earliest college needs: quarters for the president and students, and spaces for recitation and chapel. It later served as general classroom space and a science laboratory. In 1820, the building became the Medical School of Maine, until that school moved to Adams Hall in 1861. It also served as natural history museum for the Cleaveland Cabinet--Bowdoin Professor Parker Cleaveland's mineralogy specimen collection--and other natural history artifacts.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Anderson, Patricia McGraw. The Architecture of Bowdoin College. Brunswick, ME: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1988.

Briggs, John. Massachusetts Hall [Bowdoin College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1970.

Hatch, Louis Clinton. The History of Bowdoin College. Portland, ME: Loring, Short & Harmon, 1927.

Johnson, Carol. Landscape Master Plan. 1996. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME.

Klauder, Charles Z., and Herbert C. Wise. College Architecture in America and Its Part in the Development of the Campus. New York; London: C. Scribner's Sons, 1929.

Saratoga Associates. Landscape Master Plan, 1979. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME.

Sears, Robert. A Pictorial Description of the United States, Embracing the History, Geographical Position, Agricultural and Mineral Resources, Populations, Manufactures, Commerce and Sketches of Cities, Towns, Public Buildings, etc., etc., Interspersed with Revolutionary and Other Interesting Incidents Connected with the Early Settlement of the Country. Boston: John A. Lee, 1873.

Shipman, William D. Massachusetts Hall [Bowdoin College]. Historic American Buildings Survey report and photographs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1962.

Tolles, Bryant Franklin. "College Architecture in New England before 1860 in Printed and Sketched Views." Antiques 103 (March 1973): 502-09.

Tolles, Bryant Franklin. "College Architecture in Northern New England before 1860: A Social and Cultural History." Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University, 1970.

Turner, Paul Venable. Campus: An American Planning Tradition. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.

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

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