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Constructed in 1859 as a gymnasium, this building was remodeled in 1907 to provide classrooms and offices for the departments of modern languages. There was some structural renovation in 1995. The original architect was Charles E. Parkes of Boston, and the contractor R. R. Myers of Northampton. The building was named for its largest donor, Dr. Benjamin Barrett of Northampton.
Amherst's Department of Hygiene and Physical Education, also begun in 1859, was the first formal Department of Physical Education in an American college, and Barrett was one of the earliest college gymnasiums. The key figure here was Edward Hitchcock Jr. (class of 1849), who was a pioneer in physical education and anthropometrics, advocating development of both mind and body. A legendary favorite among students, alumni, and faculty, he was known as "Doc " or "Old Doc " Hitchcock.
King, Stanley. The Consecrated Eminence: the Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College. Amherst, MA: Amherst College, 1951.
O' Connell, Kristin T. Barrett Hall [Amherst College]. Inventory report. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Commission, 1975.
Tyler, William S. A History of Amherst College During the Administrations of its First Five Presidents: from 1821 to 1891. New York: F. H. Hitchcock, 1895.