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The Olmsted Legacy:

The Richard Glenn Gettell Amphitheater


May Pageant 1917 on Pageant Green. Courtesy of MHC Archives (6)

Richard Glenn Gettell Amphitheater getting ready for Commencement 2006. (7)



The Gettell Amphitheater was built in 1961 and named for Richard Glenn Gettell, president of the College during the years 1957–1968. It is located on Pageant Green. Pageant Green became the site of May Day celebrations at Mount Holyoke College for many years (the pageant originally occurred on Prospect Hill). Eventually benches were installed on the green and in 1961 these benches morphed in to an amphitheater.

Alan McGee holding an English class on the Pageant Field Benches.Courtesy of MHC Archives. (8)

Sidney Shurcliff worked with architects Carl Koch and Associates to design the amphitheater. Together they worked to design a structure that would grow out from the environment. They succeeded with Gettell Amphitheater which follows the natural slope of the Pageant Green Hill and does not obstruct the view of the nearby lake. The amphitheater was constructed to accommodate 2,500 spectators seated in concentric rings which descend from an arcade at the crest of the hill to an acoustic shell near the bottom.

Scale modle of Richard Glenn Gettell Amphitheather. Courtesy of MHC Archives. (9)

The amphitheater remains the same today. In fact, the college still uses sheets of grass (just like Shurcliff had designed) to pad the grass seats (pictured on top left). The Amphitheater is still used for Commencement and other activies.


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This page was created byShay Campbell 07 in History 283, Spring Semester 2006 -