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The College Campus

The North Campus Crossing College Street one enters the North Campus (originally the women's campus). Middlebury first admitted women in 1883 under President Hamlin. At first the only oncampus provision for the coeds was a reading room on the top floor of Old Chapel. Then, in 1891 the former president's house erected by President Kitchell at College and Weybridge Streets was adapted for use as a women's dormitory and came to be called "Battell Hall." In 1902, a separate women's college was chartered, and soon after taking office in 1907, President Thomas began work on accommodations for this institution. He had solicited a matching grant from D.K. Pearsons of Chicago and begun a fund drive when approached by Joseph Battell with the offer of a twelve-acre site north of College Street. President Thomas walked the site, found it wet and scrubby but with a spectacular view of the village, and then proposed to Battell one even better—the adjoining farm on the ridge to the west with views in both directions. Battell bought and donated the latter site (thirty-six acres) as well.

Forest Hall Originally designed by Dwight J. Baum as the corner structure of an unrealized grandiose Neo-Georgian women's quadrangle, Forest Hall was built in 1936. Its name is derived from the fact that it was financed by a sale of a large portion of the mountain acreage left the college in 1915 by Joseph Battell to the Federal Government for the Green Mountain National Forest.

Forest Hall, 1941.

ABOVE Forest Hall, 1941. Middlebury College Archives, A12 PF

BELOW Adirondack House when it was privately owned by U. D. Twitchell (pictured in the foreground), ca. 1880s. Stewart-Swift Research Center at the Henry Sheldon Museum, Oversize Collection

Adirondack House when it was privately owned by U. D. Twitchell (pictured in the foreground), ca. 1880s. Pearsons Hall, ca. 1915.

ABOVE Pearsons Hall, ca. 1915. Middlebury College Archives, A12 PF

Adirondack House West of Forest Hall is the Victorian farmhouse of Merino sheep breeder and wool dealer U.D. Twitchell that went with the farm purchased by Joseph Battell for the women's campus. In 1909 it was remodeled with designs of Frank Lyman Austin of Burlington and extended with a long ell for use as a dormitory and women's dining hall. The hall, which presently known as Coltrane Lounge, boasts a massive Richardsonian fireplace. The building now houses a variety of College offices.

Pearsons Hall Behind Adirondack House and beautifully placed on the ridge that Joseph Battell bought for its views, is Pearsons Hall, the first Middlebury structure built for women. It is named for D.K. Pearsons of Chicago, who encouraged and helped fund the project. Built in 1911, it is by the same architect (W. Nicholas Albertson) and in the same marble and the same Georgian-inspired vocabulary as its contemporaries Voter and McCullough. Inside it originally boasted accommodations for sixty-two women, with reception rooms, a suite for the Dean of Women, and basement laundry and gymnasium. The Dean, the laundry, and the gym are gone, but it still serves as a dormitory.

Ross Commons Ross Commons, named for Dean of Women, Eleanor Ross '95, is the first to be completed of the College's program to develop residential commons. Modeled on the concept of the Houses at Harvard and the Colleges at Yale, each commons combines a broad range of residential types (from first-year doubles through senior apartments) with dining, social, study, and dean's facilities around an open green. Unlike their historic prototypes, however, these complexes cannot be tightly interconnected and introverted but must be achieved utilizing the more open texture of the campus with its sense of individual building blocks in a landscape. Ross was generated by supplementing what had long been known as the "New Dorms," a series of residence halls built in 1969 – 70 and totally rebuilt as a single connected complex in 1994 – 5—its various wings named for long-time Dean of Women, Elizabeth Baker Kelly, and trustees Egbert Hadley '10 (a descendant of the Starrs), Fred P. Lang '17, and Gertrude Cornish Milliken '01 (Middlebury's first woman trustee). To this nucleus in 2000 – 02 architect Tai Soo Kim added senior housing and dining facilities to play off of the existing buildings to create a commons green that preserves and emphasizes the historic view corridor from Pearsons Hall to the Adirondacks, to define a western edge to campus construction, and to terminate the rhythm of dignified stone masses along College Street. The dormitory (LaForce Hall) utilizes a massing similar to that of Old Chapel but based on a mill-with-monitor type that is even closer to Middlebury alumnus Alexander Twilight's Old Stone House in Brownington, Vt. It is softened, though, with a curving rather than angular roof profile, echoed in the descending curved roofs of the lower dining hall that mimic the falling contours of the hillside as it falls to the rural valley below. The dining hall and paneled lounge are dominated by the warmth of certified local woods and by stunning westward views.

ABOVE Ross Dining Hall (left) and LaForce Hall (right), 2004. Images used courtesy of Glenn M. Andres

BELOW McCardell Bicentennial Hall, with "Smog" in the foreground in 2002, and the Great Hall, 1999. Left images used courtesy of Glenn M. Andres. Right image used courtesy of Middlebury College Office of College Advancement

McCardell Bicentennial Hall, 2002. Great Hall, 1999.

McCardell Bicentennial Hall Janus-like, Middlebury's new home for the sciences appropriately addressed the old Middlebury and the new at the time of the College's Bicentennial. Looking ahead, it was located at the northwest corner of the campus in order to find space adequate for combining all of the sciences in a single structure, to serve as the northern anchor of what master planning activities had proposed as an "Academic Arc" (the clustering of major academic activities along a pedestrian corridor extending the length of the campus), and to utilize topography to minimize the evident scale of the necessarily large structure from the its campus approach. Built to the designs of Payette Associates of Boston (1996 – 9), it was conceived to bring together state-of-the-art quarters for the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science, Geography, Geology, Physics, and Psychology and for programs in Environmental Studies, Neuroscience, and molecular Biology and Biochemistry in a fashion that would foster maximized interaction and sharing of facilities. Thus its wings of offices and laboratories meet around a vast great hall surrounded by informal interactive study areas and giving onto major lecture rooms, the science library, and a pioneering wing of generic laboratories that can be converted to serve a variety of disciplines, including summer language study. Its systems (e.g. room occupancy sensors that control lights and a heat-recovery system for discharged air) and finishes (local, natural and recycled materials including 125,000 board feet of certified, sustainably-harvested wood from local forests, varied by species from floor to floor and corridor to corridor) were determined to serve a major college initiative for environmental responsibility.

At the same time, the building has not lost touch with the venerable traditions of the campus and of the sciences at Middlebury. Its display cases are filled with pieces from a noteworthy collection of historic scientific apparatus, dating back to the early days of the institution and still in the college's possession (though several pieces, on extended loan to the Smithsonian Institution, can only be seen by a visit to Washington, D.C.). Among the apparatus in situ are telescopes dating back to the late 19th century, including that from the "America," the yacht for which the America's Cup Race is named. Its descendants can be found in the rooftop observatory, a regular venue for public star-gazing and itself part of a lineage dating back to the college's first observatory in the cupola of Old Chapel. Analogous to the latter, the new observatory caps the roof of its building with a formal cupola-like presence. Other references to the campus are the stone sheathing, the rhythm of individual windows, the wings proportioned and parapeted in the manner of Painter Hall, and the ventilation stacks treated to recall the chimney-studded silhouette of that oldest college building.

To the southeast of the massive structure is an appropriately monumental work of sculpture, acquired as part of the college's program of Art in Public Places. This is "Smog," conceived by Tony Smith in 1969 and fabricated for the college in painted aluminum in 1999 – 2000. Its repetitious crystalline expansion of angular forms, fascinatingly mobile when viewed from changing angles and in changing light, seems particularly suitable to a place given to the study of things like molecular and cellular structure.

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