Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Mary Lyon Hall

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Institution Name: Mount Holyoke College
Original/Historic Place Name: Mary Lyon Hall
Location on Campus: College Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1897original construction Gardner, Pyne & Gardner
Designer: Gardner, Pyne & Gardner (Springfield, MA)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Victorian (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Walls: brownstone
ca. 1897classrooms
1897-present (2006)chapel
1897-present (2006)administration

Mary Lyon Hall symbolizes the extraordinary history of Mount Holyoke College and its founder, Mary Lyon. The original 1837 seminary building comprised the entire college and, like the college curriculum, was conceived of and designed by the college's founder. After the great fire of 1896 in which the original Seminary building was burned, funds for its replacement were raised, and an administrative building named Mary Lyon Hall, in honor of the college's founder, was erected on the site of the Seminary in 1897.

Mount Holyoke College is the nation's oldest continuing institution of higher learning for women and was the first of the Seven Sisters the female equivalent of the predominantly male Ivy League. Mary Lyon Hall, therefore, is an exceptionally significant building, as it was designed to replace the original seminary building and sits directly above the cornerstone of the original college building.


Alaimo, Laura Ann. "Building Mount Holyoke College, 1896-1900." B. A. thesis, Mount Holyoke College Department of History, 1981.

Edmonds, Anne Carey. A Memory Book: Mount Holyoke College 1837-1987. South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College, 1988.

Gaines, Thomas A. The Campus as a Work of Art. New York: Praeger, 1991.

Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

Mount Holyoke College. The Centenary of Mount Holyoke College. South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College, 1937.

Mount Holyoke College. Memorial. Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Springfield, MA: S. Bowles & Company, 1862.

"Mount Holyoke College Historic Map Website." Online (1997). Archives and Special Collections.

Nutting, Mary O. Historical Sketch of Mount Holyoke Seminary. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1876.

Schwartz, Robert, et al. "Historical Atlas of the Mount Holyoke College Campus." Online (2004). Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA.

Stow, Sarah D. Locke. History of Mount Holyoke Seminary, South Hadley, Mass., During its First Half Century. Springfield, MA: Springfield Printing Company, 1887.


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Last update: November 2006