Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Adams Hall

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Institution Name: Bowdoin College
Original/Historic Place Name: Seth Adams Hall
Location on Campus: on historic quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction:
1861original construction Fasset, Francis H.
Designer: Francis H. Fassett
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Italianate (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: metal
ca. 1861-1920academic department building (medical school faculty and science laboratories)
ca. 2004-present (2006)faculty offices (as part of environmental studies dept.)
ca. 2004-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 2004-present (2006)faculty offices
ca. 2004-present (2006)academic department building (environmental studies; contains offices, common spaces, faculty offices, and classrooms)
ca. 2004-present (2006)classrooms (as part of environmental studies dept.)

Adams Hall, a building in the Italianate style, was built in 1861. Patricia McGraw Anderson describes it as "a three and one-half story brick rectangle topped by a pitched roof whose end peaks were once finished in tall finials." The building was designed by Francis Henry Fassett of nearby Bath, Maine and was built to house the Medical School and laboratories for undergraduate science education. Adams has been used for a variety of administrative and instructional purposes and was recently renovated to house the growing Environmental Studies Program. More exterior and interior work remains to be done on this building, which has not had any major rehabilitation work since its inception.

Adams Hall was the College's first strictly educational building. For 60 years, it housed the Medical School of Maine before it was disbanded in 1920. It also set the tone for the centrality of the natural science curriculum as part of a liberal arts education.


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

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.

Tolles, Bryant Franklin. "College Architecture in New England before 1860 in Printed and Sketched Views." Antiques 103 (March 1973): 502-09.

Tolles, Bryant Franklin. "College Architecture in Northern New England before 1860: A Social and Cultural History." Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University, 1970.

Turner, Paul Venable. Campus: An American Planning Tradition. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.


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