Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Newton Memorial Observatory

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Institution Name: Allegheny College
Original/Historic Place Name: Newton Memorial Observatory
Location on Campus: North Main St. (south of Ruter Hall)
Date(s) of Construction:
1901original construction Church, M. H.
Designer: M. H. Church (Chicago)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Greek revival (Glossary)
Significance: culture, engineering
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: Cleveland sandstone
Walls: Cleveland sandstone
Roof: copper and rubber
1901-present (2006)observatory
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (office of campus security)

The Newton Observatory, dedicated on June 19, 1901, was the gift of Mary M. Newton, in memory of her husband, Captain Don Carlos Newton, who attended Allegheny College for one year in 1848. The observatory, built of Cleveland sandstone, contains an equatorially mounted telescope. The nine-and-one-half-inch objective lens of the telescope was ground by noted lens maker J. A. Brashear of Allegheny, Pa. The telescope mounting and other fixtures were made by the Warner & Swasey Company of Cleveland, makers of the world's largest refracting telescope, the 40-inch refractor at the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory. The dome of the observatory rotates 360º, allowing a full view of the heavens.

Today the main floor of the Observatory houses the campus security office. The upper level, with its rotating dome and telescope, is still used by faculty and students for astronomy classes. The Newton Observatory is open to the community for viewing the stars during the fall and spring.


Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates. Deferred Maintenance and Building Renovation Cost Study. Report. [Pittsburgh, PA: Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates], 1999.

Celli Flynn Brennan. Campus Master Plan [Allegheny College]. [Pittsburgh, PA: Celli Flynn Brennan], 2002.

Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates. Allegheny 2000. Master plan. [Belmont, MA: Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates], 1987.

Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates. Heart of the Campus Report [Allegheny College]. [Belmont, MA: Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates], 1987.

Helmreich, Jonathan E. Historic Campus Tour. Meadville, PA: Allegheny College, 2001.

Helmreich, Jonathan E. Through All the Years: A Browser's History of Allegheny College [working title for publication celebrating College Bicentennial]. Meadville, PA: Allegheny College, forthcoming.

"Old Allegheny." Allegheny College Bulletin (January 1922).

Rolland/Towers. Campus Master Plan [Allegheny College]. [New Haven, CT: Rolland/Towers], 1992.

Smith, Ernest Ashton. Allegheny College--A Century of Education. Meadville, PA: Tribune Publishing Company, 1916.

Stephens, D. M. Old Allegheny: A Handbook of Information. Meadville, PA: Allegheny College, 1921.

Stotz, Charles M. The Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania. New York: William Helburn, Inc., for the Buhl Foundation, 1936.


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Last update: November 2006