Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Coram Library

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Institution Name: Bates College
Original/Historic Place Name: Coram Library
Location on Campus: 42 Campus Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1900original design Herts & Tallant
1948-1949addition of "The Fishbowl" Alonzo Harriman, Inc.
Designer: Herts & Tallant (New York); Alonzo Harriman, Inc. (Auburn, ME)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism (Glossary)
Significance: education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone with brick top and concrete
Walls: exterior: load-bearing brick, interior: lathe and plaster on brick, some gypsum wall board
Roof: slate
1902-present (2006)library (houses some library stacks, a computing lab, and some offices for Information and Library Services staff)

With its high columns, wide steps, and formal facade, Coram Library dominates the east side of the main campus quad. The cornerstone was laid Novermber 21, 1900, and the building was dedicated October 22, 1902. Built by architects Herts and Tallant of New York City, famous for other libraries and now classic theater buildings in New York City, the library was named after Bates trustee Joseph A. Coram, who donated $20,000 toward its construction. The cost of the building and furnishings was approximately $60,000.

In 1948-1949, a rectangular addition, often referred to as "the fishbowl," was built onto the back of the building; this tripled the stack capacity and increased the seating by providing a large common reading room. The architects were Alonzo Harriman, Inc., of Auburn, ME. The money for the addition came from the Library-Commons Fund and totaled about $260,000. The top two floors of this addition were torn down around 1972, when Ladd Library was built, and the ground floor of Coram was connected to the ground floor of the new library under a new plaza.

With the completion of Ladd Library in 1973, Coram was redone in 1976 for use by the Psychology Department and the Computing Center. Both of these later moved to more spacious quarters, the Psychology Department to Pettengill Hall in 1999 and the Computing Center to a number of locations around campus. Coram Library currently houses a computing lab and offices for some members of the Library and Information Services staff. Its below-ground floors continue to serve as part of the library stacks.


Dober, Richard P. Campus Design. New York: John Wiley, 1992.

Selected collections. Campus survey, aerial photographs, archival photographs. Bates College,
Lewiston, ME.


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Last update: November 2006