Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Morgan Hall

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Institution Name: Williams College
Original/Historic Place Name: Morgan Hall
Location on Campus: 7 Spring St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1882original construction J. C. Cady & Co.
Designer: J. C. Cady & Co.
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, engineering, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone
Walls: stone
Roof: slate
 
Function:
1882-present (2006)residence hall
 

Narrative:
Named after Edwin Denison Morgan (1811-1883), Governor of New York, 1859-1862, and donor of significant funds for the building's construction, Morgan Hall is located at the corner of Spring and Main Streets. Together with the Lasell Gymnasium, it frames the entry to Spring Street, the town's main commercial center.

Morgan was designed and built in 1882 in the Jacobean revival style by the New York firm of J.C. Cady & Co., which also designed buildings for the campuses of Vassar and Trinity Colleges. It is perhaps best known as the first Williams building to have indoor plumbing and the first to be connected to the college heating plant. The dormitory was also constructed with firewalls dividing the building so that a potential fire would be confined to only a portion of the structure. Indeed, the fire that broke out in 1904 resulted in much damage, but the walls and floors survived intact. It is also reputed that the Morgan Hall gargoyle, visible above a northern doorway, gave the name to the college's student leadership club, the Gargoyle Society.

In his Reflections on the architecture of Williams College, Whitney Stoddard writes: "Morgan Hall is another marvelous example of the exuberance of the eclectic revivalism which dominated the second-half of the 19th century."
 

References:

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.

Schuyler, Montgomery. "The Architecture of American Colleges VI. Dartmouth, Williams and Amherst." Architectural Record 28 (December 1910): 424-42.

Stoddard, Whitney. Reflections on the Architecture of Williams College. Williamstown, MA: Williams College, 2001: 50.

 

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Last update: November 2006