Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Bresee Hall

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Institution Name: Hartwick College
Original/Historic Place Name: Science Hall
Location on Campus: Hartwick Dr.
Date(s) of Construction:
1928-1929original construction Baum, Dwight James Pope, John Russell
Designer: Dwight James Baum; John Russell Pope
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Colonial revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete block
Walls: brick exterior; plaster interior
Roof: copper
ca. 1929gymnasium
ca. 1929library
ca. 1929old main (including offices, social halls, laboratories, and apartment for campus facilities supervisor)
1929-present (2006)admissions office
1929-present (2006)faculty offices
ca. 1929-present (2006)classrooms (including meeting rooms)
ca. 2004-present (2006)academic department building (economics, accounting, nursing, and management)
ca. 2004-present (2006)theater (blackbox theater, Lab theater)
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration (office of the President, academic affairs)

Built in 1928, Bresee Hall was the first building on campus. It was designed by the firm of John Russell Pope, architects of the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Arts, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally called "Science Hall," it was an "all purpose" facility, housing classrooms, science labs, a gymnasium, the library, offices, and an apartment for the College's campus "keeper" and his family. The building was renamed in 1954 for founder and Trustee Frank Harmon Bresee, who was an avid supporter of the College.

The facility is significant in the history of the College and community. In 1927, a group of Oneonta citizens presented to the Hartwick Seminary (which was located outside of Cooperstown, NY, about 25 miles from the current college site) a proposal in which the Oneonta community would contribute $200,000 and "provide a suitable location with grounds ample for the present and future needs of the institution." The Seminary's matching fundraising campaign was a near instant success, and plans for the building and campus were quickly drawn. Groundbreaking occurred on June 26, 1928, and the "Science Hall" opened in December 1929.

The facility maintains much of its original design and many of its original features. During the administration of Richard Detweiler (1992-2003), significant effort was made to restore the facility and its finishes to "period correct" style. That effort continues with on-going maintenance and restoration of the building.

Bresee Hall currently houses the offices of the president, admissions, and academic affairs; classrooms; the departments of nursing, economics, management, and accounting; and reception rooms. There is also a blackbox theatre in the basement called Lab Theatre, which is used for theater art classes and one-act performances.


Bailey, Ronald H. Hartwick College, A Bicentennial History: 1797-1997. Oneonta, NY: Hartwick College, 1997.

Milener, Eugene D. Oneonta: The Development of a Railroad Town. Second revised edition. Plainview, NY: EPI, 1997.

New York State Historic Preservation Office. Bresee Hall [Hartwick College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1984.


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Last update: November 2006