Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Shafer Hall

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Institution Name: Wellesley College
Original/Historic Place Name: Shafer Hall
Location on Campus: Hazard Quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction:
1908-1909original construction Schweinfurth, J. A.
Designer: J. A. Schweinfurth
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: granite block
Walls: brick, white limestone trim
Roof: slate
1909-present (2006)dining hall
1909-present (2006)residence hall

From Massachusetts Historical Commission report (1989): Situated in the southeast corner of the Hazard Quadrangle, Shafer Hall, built in 1909, is a mirror image of Beebe Hall, located in the southwest corner. The general plan of the building is similar to that of Pomeroy Hall, with a six-story tower on the southern end, a projecting four-story dormitory wing which forms part of the east side of the quad, and a small residential wing (formerly the servants' quarters) on the easterly side of the tower.

The dormitory is of red brick construction on a granite block foundation and has white limestone trim. Built into the slope, the tower rises six stories (five above the courtyard of the Quad) and retains similar textural ornamentation as Pomeroy and Cazenove Halls, including stone quoins, stringcourses, window surrounds, brick rustication, polychrome bricks in a diamond or lattice-work pattern, a castellated parapet, and Flemish-style parapeted gables. The four polygonal corner turrets have light green copper curvilinear roofing and well-defined wrought iron weather vanes.

The general interior plan of Shafer Hall is similar to that of Pomeroy and Cazenove Halls. The dining room is located on the first level, down one flight from the main reception area due to the slope of the terrain at this point. Stained glass inlay on the main entrance hall windows commemorates former mathematics professor and college president (1887-1894) Helen A. Shafer's love of math studies. The emblems were designed by Miss Ellen Pendleton, Wellesley College President (1911-1936), who also initiated the motion to honor the memory of President Shafer by naming the dormitory after her.

See also Hazard Quadrangle, Beebe Hall, Cazenove Hall, and Pomeroy Hall.


Fergusson, Peter, James F. O'Gorman, and John Rhodes. The Landscape & Architecture of Wellesley College. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College, 2000.

Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

Schuyler, Montgomery. "The Architecture of American Colleges: X. Three Women's Colleges: Vassar, Wellesley & Smith." Architectural Record 31 (May 1912): 513-37.


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