A photo of Laurenus Clark Seelye

Laurenus Clark Seelye


A photo of Professor William Cole Esty

Professor William Cole Esty


A photo of Professor Edwin Augustus Grosvenor

Professor Edwin A. Grosvenor


A photo of Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor

Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor

The building currently known as Grosvenor House was built back in 1865 by William E. Smith, the well-known Amherst carpenter who later became Selectman and Assessor. After it was built its owner, George Cutler, “felt that he could not afford such a fine house to live in” and sold it to Laurenus Clark Seelye, Professor of English Literature at Amherst College. [1]

In 1873, the trustees of newly founded Smith College convinced Seeyle to be their first president. So in 1875, Seeyle sold the property to Professor William Cole Esty (class of 1860, Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy) and moved to Northampton.

In 1909 Esty sold the property to Professor Edwin Augustus Grosvenor (class of 1867). Professor Grosvenor (“Grosvie”) was a professor successively of French, European History, Modern governments and International Law (1892-1914). In 1932 Professor Grosvenor transferred the property to his son, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (class of 1897), President of the National Geographic Society.

Professor Grosvenor passed away in 1936. The following year Gilbert Grosvenor sold the property to Amherst College with the stipulation that the building have a conference room decorated in memory of his father. The building was remodeled into faculty offices. The building opened for academic year 1937 – 1938, and housed 15 people, most of them faculty:

  • Professor Theodore Baird (English)
  • Professor Phillips Bradley (Political Science)
  • Professor Lester V. Chandler (Economics)
  • Miss Edith M. Churchill
  • Professor James T. Cleland (Religion)
  • Professor Reginald F. French (Romance Languages)
  • Professor Karl Lowenstein (Political Science)
  • Professor William J. Newlin (Math and Philosophy)
  • Mr. Richard C. Overton (American History)
  • Mr. William R. Pabst, Jr. (Economics)
  • Mr. Norman E. Richardson, Jr.
  • Professor Charles L. Sherman (Latin)
  • Mr. John R. Theobald (English)
  • Professor Frederick K. Turgeon (French)
  • Professor Ralph C. Williams (French)

Today, Grosvenor House is home to the department offices of Classics and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies (SWAGS), the Classics Reading Room, the SWAGS common room, and faculty offices in the departments of Classics and Spanish.


[1] Letter from Edward T. Esty to Walter A. Dyer dated December 8, 1941, courtesy of Amherst College Archives & Special Collections