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Matthew Vassar was extremely foresighted with respect to the college's heating plant; he realized that failing to serve the heating needs of the residents of Main Building-- students, faculty, administrators, and servants- would make it impossible to maintain Vassar as a residential community. He personally oversaw the construction of the college's heating system-an engineering accomplishment. The building in which the system was installed was located approximately 400 ft. east of the college's central building, Main. Pipelines carried the heat into the main building. The original Power Plant, built by the time of the opening of the college in 1865, is still in use today, providing steam heat as one component in an enlarged campus-wide system. A smoke-stack, no longer functional, still stands next to the power plant, where it has stood since 1865. The building itself has been modified over time. The original plant, a red brick building, contained not only furnaces and machinery but also the coal bins that have recently lent themselves to adaptive reuse as the Susan Shiva Theater and the Alana Center.
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