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Hetty H.R. Green Hall is important both for its architecture--an exemplary and energetic display of the Collegiate Gothic style--and its siting, which carefully integrates it into the landscape. The building is much more richly decorated than Founders Hall, with several notable elements, including the high buttressed walls of granite ashlar, the narrow winding stairs that pass through this seemingly impenetrable wall from the bottom of Norumbega Hill to the courtyard, and the high peaked gables and dormers that pierce the roofs at varying intervals. Chimneys are the traditional medieval clustered stacks popular in Gothic Revival architecture. Architectural embellishments are found on all sides of Green Hall.
Green Hall is designed to conform to the landscape, wrapping around the brow of the hill in an intricate and sophisticated plan. Consisting of one long building perpendicular to Founders Hall, it has two wings projecting to the east forming a courtyard on the eastern slope of the hill. The way in which the building wraps around the edge of the hill, spilling over to anchor the massive structure and tower with a solid fortress-like granite block wall, emphasizes the topography. The road system is built into the architecture of the building, another example of the building being an integral part of the landscape. The care taken to situate the building in relation to its site and to other nearby buildings on the campus illustrates the principles of design laid out by Wellesley College planners since Frederick Law Olmsted in 1902.
The architect Charles Klauder, whose partner Frank Day had designed Founders Hall and had worked on the original design of Green Hall from 1916 to 1918 before he passed away, was hired to revise the design to meet the contemporary needs of the college. The Galen Stone Tower, 182 feet in height from the ground to the highest finial and certainly the focal point of the campus, was referred to as Klauder's "dream of dreams." In all likelihood Klauder had developed his taste for massive towers from Ralph Adams Cram, with whom the Day and Klauder firm had worked at Princeton University. Money to construct the tower was donated by Galen L. Stone, a Boston banker and college trustee from 1915-1925.The tower houses a 32-bell carillon, frequently played by students of the Wellesley Guild of Carilloneurs.
Green Hall has several interior spaces that have remained unaltered and retain the architectural integrity of the original design and construction. The need to modernize offices in recent years has been done with little permanent effect to these special spaces of the original design. The President's Suite on the second floor has five rooms with detailed Gothic paneling, a stone fireplace, Gothic-like windows and pointed arched low door surrounds. Of particular importance is the Faculty council or Academic Council Room on the third floor. This imposing space spans the width of the building and connects academic offices on each end of Green Hall. The building currently houses administrative offices, the Board of Admissions, and classrooms.
Green Hall was financed with donations made by Hetty Sylvia Ann Howland Green Wilks of New York and Edward Howland Robinson Green of Texas in memory of their mother Hetty Howland Robinson Green. The agreement made in 1923 was that each would contribute $50,000 per year for five years if the college would construct a building to be known as Hetty H.R. Green Hall. The funds were available in 1928, with the college raising additional monies to support the construction.
Fergusson, Peter, James F. O'Gorman, and John Rhodes. The Landscape & Architecture of Wellesley College. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College, 2000.
Welsh, William E. "Mission Possible: Wellesley College Enlists Landscape Architects to Restore Pedestrian Sovereignty to Its Campus." Landscape Architecture 90 (August 2000): 44, 46, 48-49.