Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Bricks, The (Winthrop, Maine, Appleton and Hyde Halls)

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Institution Name: Bowdoin College
Original/Historic Place Name: The Bricks
Location on Campus: historic quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1822original construction; Winthrop Hall Melcher, Samuel, III
1836original construction; Maine Hall Melcher, Samuel, III
1843original construction; Appleton Hall Melcher, Samuel, III
1917original construction; Hyde Hall Allen & Collens Burton, Felix A.
1936rebuilt after fire; Maine Hall Raymond, Anthony C.
1960srenovation; Winthrop Hall Unknown
1970srenovation; Appleton Hall Unknown
1970srenovation; Maine Hall Unknown
Type of Place: Building group
Style(s) of majority of buildings: Other: Winthrop: Federal; Maine: Greek revival; Appleton: Greek revival; Hyde: Colonial revival
Style(s) of minority of buildings: not applicable
Building group type: Linear; Quadrangle; Other: the Bricks line one edge of the historic quadrangle.
Relationship to landscape:
none specified
Ideas associated with building group:
none specified
1822-present (2007)residence halls
ca. 1840slibrary (Maine Hall housed two literary societies, the Peucinian and the Athenaen, and their libraries)

Significance: architecture, culture, education, history
Landmark designation:
National RegisterFederal Street Historic District (1976)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The "Bricks" are the brick dormitories which currently house first-year students and have always served in this capacity. The buildings are given distinction by their stately, rectangular, four-storied design, and because they form the backbone of the East Side of the historic Bowdoin Quadrangle, which they all front. According to Patricia Anderson, the "idea of planning sites for buildings and landscaping was implicit in the placement of the earliest buildings." She further notes that an early influence on Bowdoin was the old Brick Row of Yale, facing New Haven Green. Winthrop, the Bricks' oldest dormitory, was built in 1822 and renovated in the 1960s. The College renovated Maine (1836) and Appleton (1843) in the 1970s. Hyde, built in 1917, has not been renovated. The Bricks need to be renovated to accommodate modern codes and changing student needs, and their masonry needs appropriate maintenance. Before the College begins this maintenance work, Bowdoin's consultants will undertake an historic survey to ensure that the important, character-defining features, both interior and exterior, are documented for consideration in any new design or renovation. Rooms in The Bricks currently house from one to three students, each room with a separate sleeping and studying area.

Once a College of just a handful of male students who lived with President McKeen in Massachusetts Hall, Bowdoin now enrolls 1,650 men and women and has a faculty and staff that numbers nearly 900. Approximately 3,000 people use the Bowdoin campus every day for at least nine months of the year. In the summer, Bowdoin hosts thousands of visitors to the campus through its summer events and programs and is much more heavily used now than when poet Henry W. Longfellow and his brother, Stephen (both class of 1825), occupied a dormitory room in Winthrop Hall, or when novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne (also class of 1825) walked the College pathways. The addition of the four-storied Winthrop Hall greatly increased the number of students living on campus.

Maine Hall was originally designed and built by Samuel Melcher III. After the second fire in Maine Hall, in 1936, Anthony C. Raymond rebuilt it. Melcher's simple well-proportioned construction gave distinction to this Bowdoin building, and the literary societies and their libraries, the Peucinian and Athenaean, were housed in Maine Hall. Longfellow was among the members of the Peucinian Society, and the Athenaean roster included U.S. President Franklin Pierce, class of 1824, and as well as Hawthorne. Running water was not installed in Maine Hall until 1892. Winthrop Hall, designed by Samuel Melcher, is a late Federal structure and is critically important because it is the only exact reflection of the first Maine Hall, which burned down in 1822. Winthrop is the prototype for all of Bowdoin's brick dormitories.

Appleton Hall (1843) was designed by Samuel Melcher and Sons. With the plan to build the third dormitory, President Allen gave his stamp of approval to the row design of the campus, headed by Massachusetts Hall to the north and the Chapel in the middle of the row, all facing the town green, later to become the quadrangle. Appleton's design was meant to fit with that of Maine and Winthrop Halls, although the doorways are of the Greek Revival style, whereas Winthrop was more Federal in design. The completion of Appleton enabled all 150 students to live on campus, and according to Patricia Anderson "thus accomplishing a goal of American colleges of the time, the self-contained scholarly community where student behavior could be monitored" Referred to briefly as South College, this dorm was renamed for Bowdoin's second president, the Reverend Jesse Appleton.

The completion of Hyde Hall in 1917 represented the last brick dormitory to be placed directly on the quadrangle. (The fifth and sixth brick first-year dormitories are slightly behind the quad.) Hyde was designed by Allen & Collens of Boston in reference to the other three brick dormitories, Winthrop, Maine, and Appleton. The result is a fourth "matching" four-story Colonial Revival dorm of brick with wood and stone trim. Although the building shows considerable similarity to the other dorms, associate architect Felix Burton provided it with its own individual stamp.

I. Bibliographic sources:

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

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

Schuyler, Montgomery. "The Architecture of American Colleges VII. Brown, Bowdoin, Trinity and Wesleyan. Architectural Record 29 (February 1911): 144-66.

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.

Shettleworth, Earle G., Jr., and Frank A. Beard. Federal Street Historic District [including Bowdoin College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1976.

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:

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