An Exhibition of 10 Photographs from the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Walker Hall, 1875
Amherst College President William A. Stearns referred to Walker Hall as the "Temple of Science" when its cornerstone was laid in 1868. Walker Hall was formally opened in October 1870. Constructed of Monson granite, Walker was the largest and most elaborate building on campus. George Hathorne was the architect. Walker Hall held the scientific departments as well as the President's Office and the Trustees' room. Named for Dr. William Walker of Newport, R.I., who contributed to the building fund, Walker Hall burned on the night of March 28, 1882. In the fire, the College lost many administrative records and the entire Shepard Mineralogical Collection. After the tragedy of the fire, Walker was reconstructed on the same site in the "revised medieval" style of the first building. Professor W.S. Tyler (AC 1830) described the rebuilt Walker as "more than ever, the archives, the treasury, the capitol, the acropolis of Amherst College." The Robert Frost Library now stands on the site.
Walker Hall after the fire, March 29, 1882
Walker Hall as rebuilt, 1882
Walker Hall was razed in 1963 to make way for the Robert Frost Library. During its life as a classroom and administrative building, Walker Hall housed several departments, including Mathematics, English, Philosophy, History, and Political Science, and the offices of the President, Dean, Treasurer, Recorder, and Trustees. The imposing, open staircase in the center of of the building reflects the "revised medieval" style of architecture and was retained in 1950 when the interior of Walker Hall was remodeled.
The Main Staircase in Walker Hall
Final examinations were given at the end of each semester and were held in the main court of the Alumni Gymnasium. A protective floor was installed and students sat at individual desks, brought in for the purpose. Most often exams for multiple courses were given during a single time slot. Faculty who taught the courses proctored the exams. Students could take up to two finals in one day. During the 1950s, a fee of three dollars was charged for each postponed exam.
This freshman geometry class was taught in Williston Hall by James H. Tufts. Equppied with T-squares and drawing boards, some students work together while others sketch pyramids, rectangles, squares, and other geometrical figures under the tutelage of their young instructor, a graduate in the class of 1884.
Originally built in 1853 to serve as the College library, Morgan was the first College building to be constructed of Pelham gneiss. Henry A. Sykes of Springfield served as the architect. The entrance hall to the library was designed to hold "the oldest book in the library," six sculpture slabs with cuneiform inscriptions from the palace of Assurbanipal (Sardanapalus) at Nimroud (ancient Nineveh) which has been given to the College by Henry Lobdell, Class of 1849, a missionary to Assyria. The entrance also later housed a six-pounder brass cannon, a memorial to First Lieutenant Frazar Stearns, Class of 1863, son of President William A. Stearns, who was killed during the Civil War at the battle of New Bern, N.C., on March 14, 1862. Designed to hold 40,000 volumes, the building was already overcrowded by the time the collection reached 30,000 volumes. In 1882, Francis B. Allen (AC 1865) of Allen and Kenway designed a large addition to the stacks at the rear of the building. At that time the Trustees named the building after Henry T. Morgan in recognition of a bequest from his estate. Morgan Library served as the main College library until Converse Library was constructed in 1917.