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Hathorn Hall was named for Seth and Mary Hathorn of Woolwich, Maine, who contributed $5,000 toward its construction. Designed by G.J.F. Bryant of Boston, the cornerstone was laid June 26, 1856, and the building opened for use September 1, 1857. Jonathan Davis donated the bell that sits in the cupola and is still rung to signal class times and at special events such as commencement.
Originally the building housed all the College's public spaces: classrooms, the president's office, laboratories, the library, and the chapel. As other buildings were built its use became more specialized. In 1886 a steam heating plant was installed, which was later removed. There have been many renovations over the years, instigated by the changing needs of the College as well as unforeseen circumstances. A fire of unknown origin in March 1881 caused about $1,500 in damage, while the discovery of structural problems resulted in renovations in 1898. Following a renovation in 1960-1962, the auditorium was converted into a classroom and faculty offices at a cost of $233,000. Except for the addition of a stair tower on the back, none of these renovations affected the exterior appearance of the building. Hathorn Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1970. A major renovation took place in 1984 with a $190,000 grant from the Pew Foundation.
Hathorn currently houses academic offices, classrooms, and computer labs for the departments of mathematics, classical and romance languages and literatures, and Russian, German, and East Asian languages and literatures. It remains the focal point of the main campus quad and is the building that is most identified with Bates College.
Briggs, John W. Hathorn Hall [Bates College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1970.
Selected collections. Campus survey, aerial photographs, archival photographs. Bates College, Lewiston, ME.
Tolles, Bryant Franklin. "College Architecture in New England before 1860 in Printed and Sketched Views." Antiques 103 (March 1973): 502-09.
Tolles, Bryant Franklin. "College Architecture in Northern New England before 1860: A Social and Cultural History." Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University, 1970.
Tolles, Bryant Franklin. "Maine State Seminary: Gridley J. F. Bryant and Antebellum Architectural Master Planning." Old-Time New England 78 (Spring-Summer 2000): 41-55.