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The construction of Stetson Hall as the new college library in 1921 was funded primarily by two Williams alumni: Alfred Clark Chapin (1848-1936) and Francis Lynde Stetson, an attorney for J. P. Morgan. Both men also served for many years as trustees of the college. In addition to their financial contributions, Chapin and Stetson also worked with Williams president Harry A. Garfield (1863-1942) and architects Cram & Ferguson on the functioning and style of the building. Chapin in particular was involved in the design of the exhibition hall and a reading room enhanced by Tiffany display cases, which would house his gift of rare volumes and prints, now designated the Chapin Library of Rare Books. When built, Stetson was one of the finest college libraries of its day.
Stetson Hall has been enlarged over the years: in 1955/6, Cram & Ferguson extended the stacks area; in 1962, a small addition was constructed by Hoyle, Coran & Berry to house the Roper Center of Public Opinion; and in 1976/7, Harry Weese & Associates renovated much of the newer construction to serve as additional faculty offices. Despite these additions, in his Reflections on the Architecture of Williams College, Stoddard describes the building as "an example of the Georgian Revival style of Cram and Ferguson at its finest."
Stetson Hall is slated for renovation and expansion, and work will most likely begin within five or six years. As a beloved building and example of superior craftsmanship and excellent architecture, it is believed that most of the original 1922 structure will be retained and restored.
Klauder, Charles Z., and Herbert C. Wise. College Architecture in America and Its Part in the Development of the Campus. New York and London: C. Scribner's Sons, 1929.
Lewis, R. Cragin, ed. Williams 1793-1993: A Pictorial History. Williamstown, MA: Williams College Bicentennial Commission, 1993.
Rudolph, Frederick. Mark Hopkins and the Log: Williams College, 1836-1872. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956.
Rudolph, Frederick. Mark Hopkins and the Log: Williams College, 1836-1872. Reprint, with an appendix by the author, "Williams College 1793-1993: Three Eras, Three Cultures," Williamstown, MA: Williams College, 1996.
Stoddard, Whitney. Reflections on the Architecture of Williams College. Williamstown, MA: Williams College, 2001: 86.