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Wider World



The Envisioned Plan

Shurtleff and Cram Present Their Ideas


A Bird's Eye View of Shurtleff's Proposed Landscape Design. Courtesy of MHC Archives.


Shurtleff’s landscape plans envisioned shorter and more direct pathways within the quadrangles enabling the college community to reach their destination in a shorter length of time. Cram, the consulting architect, envisioned a repositioning of the buildings’ entryways, from College Street to the inside of the campus, resulting in quick access to the buildings. New groves of shade would be created and lawns planted only where grass needed to be cut. In an opposing viewpoint of Olmsted’s landscape plans, shrubs and flowers were to be planted for a picturesque effect and only in specific areas and regions that were free from foot travel. A bird’s-eye view of this landscape design shows the campus as a grid of rectangles outlined by rows or trees on the outsides of the quadrangles.

The plan that Arthur Shurtleff and Ralph Adams Cram devised for Mount Holyoke is intriguing in the way it took existing buildings, already in Collegiate Gothic style, and redressed them in grander, more monumental form. Shurtleff claimed, “The belief prevails that if the ideals and needs are carefully fostered, the new College campus will retain all the loveliness of the old Mount Holyoke, but will gain greater beauty with its greater usefulness” (14).

Perhaps Shurtleff and Cram, in their desire to create an elegant Anglo-Saxon appearance on the campus, failed to take into consideration that the “heart and soul” of Mount Holyoke was related to white clapboard houses and a Victorian church…a kind of elegance in a small-town atmosphere (15).

In many instances fate steps in with circumstances beyond our control, for which we can be thankful. After a period of prosperity in our country, the stock market crashed in 1929 followed by the Great Depression. This national catastrophe placed the architectural plans on hold, never to be brought to fruition on the Mount Holyoke College campus.

Atlas Home Page

Home Page

The History of Gothic Architecture:
Cambridge and Princeton
About Ralph Cram

A Time of Transition:
Bryn Mawr
Mary E. Woolley
Frederick Olmsted Jr.

The Envisioned Plan:
Program for Campus Development
Designs for the Library and Chapel
Shurtleff and Cram Present Their Ideas

The Implemented Plan:
Meetings and Discussions
Collens' Library Designs(Exterior)
Collens' Library Designs (Interior)
Bertha Blakely's Influence
Abbey Memorial Chapel
Charles Collens Dedication Speech and closing comments

Trivial Pursuit Question





This page was created by Ellie Perrier '07 FP in History 283, Spring 2006