Mount Holyoke was built on such a firm foundation that at least one piece of it seems to have resurfaced after 176 years.
Contractor Lance Bristol was digging between Abbey Chapel and Williston Library to make utilities repairs recently when he unearthed a rock that, to a trained eye, is clearly the right type, size, and shape to have been part of a building’s foundation.
And, says Facilities Management HVAC/Utilities Specialist Russell Boudreau, the large stone was found in the area where the original Mount Holyoke Seminary Building stood from 1837 until fire destroyed it in 1896.
Boudreau knew what to look for because, in 1990, he identified a similar foundation rock discovered during construction of the library’s Miles-Smith wing. He and other FM staffers joined forces with College archivists to prove that this first rock was once part of Mount Holyoke’s original library, which was built in 1870 next to the Seminary Building.
The rock unearthed this fall was found within the “footprint” of the Seminary Building itself, though its precise location can’t be pinpointed since it was moved during the digging. “We are convinced that, with just a tiny bit of poetic license, we can claim it as part of the original Seminary Building,” says Boudreau. “Now in reality, it’s just a basic rock. But to me, it’s a piece of the College’s history.”
That sounds like a rock-solid conclusion.
—By Emily Harrison Weir