Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Hubbard Hall

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Institution Name: Bowdoin College
Original/Historic Place Name: Hubbard Hall
Location on Campus: on historic quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction:
1903original construction Vaughan, Henry
Designer: Henry Vaughan
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
ca. 1903library
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (computer information services)
ca. 2004-present (2006)museum (Peary-MacMillian Arctic Studies Museum)
ca. 2004-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)faculty offices (for departments of economics and government)

Designed by Henry Vaughan and built in 1903, Hubbard Hall is regarded by many as the most beautiful building on campus. Vaughan describes Hubbard as: "17th century Gothic … the last stage of Gothic in England … followed by the Renaissance. Many of the College buildings of Oxford and Cambridge are in this composite style." Built as the College's library, Vaughan designed the building to be a focal point on campus and a shared symbol of the College community's dedication to intellectual pursuits. Since Hubbard is no longer the library, however, the building no longer conveys that meaning on the Quadrangle. Hubbard's brick, limestone, and granite are the same materials used in the construction of the neighboring Walker Art Building. The 100-year-old roof is the finest Monson slate.

Today, Hubbard Hall is a multi-use facility. To accommodate the growth of its faculty, the College has had to divide the interior for office and classroom space, and the spaces function for these purposes only moderately well. Hubbard is also home to the Perry-MacMillan Arctic Studies Museum, which exists in inadequate, cramped spaces. In addition, the second floor of Hubbard is occupied by Computer Information Services, which has subdivided the spaces even further to use them for totally modern uses, including new and complex computer wiring and cables. The building's basement floods occasionally, and no special handicapped access currently exists. Many believe that current uses of the building endanger its historic nature.

The College may re-program Hubbard, possibly as the College's library, and may move the Arctic Museum to Rhodes Hall, another building that then would be re-programmed. The work to be done on Hubbard involves an analysis of how to use this building's spaces, including large reading rooms and smaller rooms, in ways that are compatible with its historic nature and design, and with the contemporary needs of students and faculty. The College recognizes that this work must be done in a way that preserves the building's historic characteristics. At 100 years old, the exterior of Hubbard has not been thoroughly reviewed for rehabilitation needs and has only received minor repairs in the past. All areas need attention. Due to the extensive interior alterations, a preservation plan is critical to return the interior spaces to a configuration that respects the original intent for the building.


Anderson, Patricia McGraw. The Architecture of Bowdoin College. Brunswick, ME: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1988.

Hatch, Louis Clinton. The History of Bowdoin College. Portland, ME: Loring, Short & Harmon, 1927.

Indiana Limestone Quarrymen's Association. Indiana Limestone for School and College Buildings: Indiana Limestone Library. vol. 6, series B. Bedford, IN: Indiana Limestone Quarrymen's Association, 1924.

Morgan, William. The Almighty Wall, the Architecture of Henry Vaughan. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983.

Schuyler, Montgomery. "The Architecture of American Colleges VII. Brown, Bowdoin, Trinity and Wesleyan." Architectural Record 29 (February 1911): 144-66.

Shettleworth, Earle G., Jr., and Frank A. Beard. Federal Street Historic District [including Bowdoin College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1976.


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Last update: November 2006