Constructed in 1890 and hosting its first football game in 1891, Amherst's Pratt Field is the third oldest NCAA football playing site in the nation. The brainchild of the college's third president, Dr. Edward Hitchcock, who established at Amherst the nation's first department of hygiene and physical education, Pratt Field was constructed with a $20,000 gift from Frederick B. Pratt of the Class of 1887. An article from Harper's Magazine from May 24, 1890, praised Hitchcock in connection with the opening of the new facility, which, said the article, "was to be constructed in a college grove of stately pines, familiarly known as Blake Woods. When completed," the article continues, "these will comprise one of the largest and most efficiently equipped athletic and recreation grounds of any college in the country."
Over the years Pratt Field has evolved, reflecting the times with each successive modification. A grandstand was added in 1897, complete with towers, flags and arches, and the field's familiar iron gate entrance was erected in 1926. In 1974, the college constructed nearby Debevoise Field House with home and visiting locker rooms, while the adjoining Hill Practice Field was upgraded with a modern lighting system. A press box was added in 1988, and the Neuhoff-Lumley Track was installed around the playing surface in 1989. Finally, prior to the 2000 season, Pratt Field received new bleachers on both sidelines, giving it the perfect mix of new and old.
With modern amenities blending seamlessly with century-old decor in an ideal campus setting, Pratt Field will continue to stand as a beacon of small-college football tradition for years to come.