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Founding Years




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Student Life

Historical Contexts

Wider World



A Time of Transition

The Long Range Building Program Under Mary Emma Woolley



President Mary Emma Woolley, 1933. Courtesy of MHC Archives.


The Mount Holyoke College campus has been described as “one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country.” The architectural landscape of our campus has many histories beginning with the construction of Mary Lyon Female Seminary, built in 1837 at a cost of $15,000 and with eighty students enrolled. Fifty-six years later, in 1893, Mount Holyoke changed its curriculum and received its collegiate charter, resulting in an ambitious program of building and development for the College. Continuing into the late 1920’s and 1930’s some of the most exhilarating architectural expansion occurred at Mount Holyoke when the campus was redesigned for the future, in a determined effort to elevating the institution to the top ranks of other Colleges.

Mary Woolley, president of Mount Holyoke College from 190l-1937, worked tirelessly to create a dynamic college that would speak for academic achievement. In her desire for buildings that would create a vision of English schools, Victorian architecture was no longer in her favor. During her tenure at the College, she was responsible for the construction of sixteen buildings. “Mary Woolley began her campaign for what she called “bricks,’ money to erect academic buildings. She became a highly successful builder and was proud of her accomplishments. She later reflected “to those who have had a part in the building every stick and stone seems human” (11). Incidentally, Woolley was the first woman to receive an AB from Brown University in 1894.

The mortar and bricks of a structure offer a strong testimonial for the educational values of a college institution. Of equal worth, was the choice of landscape design that Frederick Olmsted Jr presented as "the total community ideal for the New England village setting".

For More Information on Frederick Olmsted Jr, Click Here

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