Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Everett Courtyard

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Institution Name: Wheaton College (MA)
Original/Historic Place Name: Everett Courtyard
Location on Campus: Upper Campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1926completion of original construction Cram, Ralph Adams
Designer: Ralph Adams Cram
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Function:
1926-present (2006)outdoor space
 

Narrative:
Everett Courtyard was created when Everett Hall was built in 1926 in back (west) of Cragin Hall, contiguous to Stanton and Emerson Halls. Everett Hall is an L-shaped building, angled along Howard Street so as to create an uneven rectangular outdoor "room" surrounded by residence halls. The ends of the surrounding Georgian Revival residence halls have double chimneys that form massive H's, which, with other decorative motifs, echo the courtyards of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, as well as Harvard University and the University of William and Mary. The Courtyard has always been "furnished" with interesting plantings, including trees, shrubs, and flowers, as well as benches. A particular campus favorite was a magnificent American beech tree, which was replaced in 1989 with a dawn redwood.

Plans for Everett Hall had been drawn, and President Samuel V. Cole was seeking funding when he suddenly died in 1925. Trustee and acting president Dr. George T. Smart brought Everett into being. Everett Hall was named for Ida Josephine Everett, Professor of English from 1906 to 1928, and first dean of the college from 1912 to 1921. She was dean emeritus and college hostess until her death in 1934. At the dedication in the fall of 1926, Miss Everett lit the first fire upon its hearth. An alumna wrote of Miss Everett, "To me Wheaton and Miss Everett are synonymous. Miss Everett is the physical exponent of the intangible things that make Wheaton Spirit."

When first built, Everett Hall housed both faculty and students and had its own dining room on the ground floor of the north section. The construction of Everett Hall closed the campus off from Howard Street, yet created a lovely courtyard at the same time. The arched entry from Howard Street, or "Slype," was, therefore, the entrance to a world within a world, a "splendid unit of collegiate life," according to acting president Smart, modeled on the colleges of Europe. The view of the courtyard from the Slype well justifies Dr. Smart's description. When the bookstore replaced the dining hall, the Slype became one of the best places to post notices of meetings, lectures, or the need for a ride, and is still familiar to every student as the quickest means of crossing Howard Street to get to the The Old Town Hall Bookstore. Th e ground floor of the north section originally was a dining hall, which was converted into the college bookstore in the summer of 1978. In the summer of 1993, this area was converted to student rooms and named Everett Heights, because the beds are "lofted." The exterior of the building has remained virtually unchanged, with the exception of the installation of a ramp for handicapped access.

The Court has long been the area in which faculty, trustees, and the senior class line up for the commencement parade, and the site of an annual senior class party. A ghost is supposed to inhabit Everett Hall. Every year Everett Courtyard is witness to the renewal of Wheaton's old tradition of singing to celebrate special occasions by the four campus a cappella singing groups. When they have selected their new members for the coming year they traditionally gather at midnight to serenade the campus in the Slype, an archway in the building giving access from Everett Court to Howard Street. According to an old campus tradition, any woman caught in the light of the Slype lamp on Halloween was destined to live a single life. If a woman forgot the prophecy and walked under the lamp and still wanted to marry, she was supposed to kick off her shoes and run barefoot across the Dimple. In order to complete the redemption, a young man was supposed to catch and kiss her before she had completed her sprint across campus, and it was he whom she would marry. Many alumnae remember this as a year-round prohibition, and still avoid the light of the lamp even in daytime.
 

References:

Boulding, Christine, and Hope Phillips. Norton Center Historic District [including Wheaton College]. National Register of Historic Places nomination form. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1977.

Helmreich, Paul C. Wheaton College 1834-1957: A Massachusetts Family Affair. New York: Cornwall Books, 2002.

"Ida Josephine Everett." Wheaton Alumnae Magazine (November 1934): 3.

Raymond, Wilfred P. "The Bookstore: A Practical Endeavor." College Store Journal 47, no. 6 (Winter 1960): 35, 37-38.

Shepard, Grace F. "Reference History of Wheaton College." Typescript. 1931. Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

Stickney, Zephorene L. Architectural History of the Wheaton College Campus: History of Land and Building Acquisition. [Norton, MA.: s.n.], 1987, rev. 2002.

Stickney, Zephorene L. "Faces behind the Facades: Campus Development & Named Buildings at Wheaton College, Norton, MA." Online (2006). Wheaton College, Norton, MA. http://www2.wheatonma.edu/Archives/Histories/FBF/FBFHome.html

Stickney, Zephorene L. Wheaton Imagined, Wheaton Realized: Twentieth Century Perspectives on Planning. Norton, MA: Wheaton College, February 1988.

Stickney, Zephorene L., and Sandra C. Davidson. Of All Our Immemorial Past: 150 Years at Wheaton. Norton, MA: Watson Gallery, Wheaton College, 1985.

 

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Last update: November 2006