Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project



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Institution Name: Nichols College
Original/Historic Place Name: Conant Library and Observatory, Nichols Academy
Location on Campus: Center Rd.
Date(s) of Construction:
1883original construction Elbridge Boyden & Son
1962addition; Conant Library
Designer: Elbridge Boyden & Son (Worcester, MA)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Colonial revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: granite
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
ca. 1883infirmary
ca. 1883observatory (Nichols Academy)
ca. 1883library (Nichols Academy)
1883-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)chapel

The present Nichols College Chapel was constructed in 1883 as the Conant Library and Observatory. It was built by Hezekiah Conant after he completed the Academy Hall. The architectural firm was Elbridge Boyden and Son of Worcester, Massachusetts, also the architects of Academy Hall and later Conant Hall. Conant remarked in 1887 that the library and astronomical observatory contained 2000 volumes, two telescopes, and had telegraphic communications with the world via Western Union lines.

Referred to as unique in "function and appearance" in a report by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, this structure features two towers and a half-round observatory roof which can be opened for astronomical observation. Its architecture is Stick style, it is one and one-half stories, and it serves as an important landmark on Dudley Hill. Conant intended that its facilities and resources would be available to the Academy scholars and the people of the community.


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Last update: November 2006