A glimpse of the College’s nineteenth-century centerpiece

Construction for Mount Holyoke’s new 地热能项目 led to discoveries from the College’s beginnings.

六月底,卡拉·扬布拉德 FP99年,她接到了一个她一直期待的电话. The contractor overseeing work for the campus’s newly launched 地热能项目 有一些新闻. Workers discovered part of an historic brick foundation wall five feet below ground level while digging a large trench about 60 feet from the entrance to Abbey Memorial Chapel.

血性小子, the College’s associate vice president for facilities man年龄ment, instantly knew what it was. Before excavation work started, she had been alerted by colleagues at the 霍利奥克山学院美术馆 that the foundation of the College’s original building — the massive Seminary Building dating back to Mount Holyoke’s founding year of 1837 — could soon see the light of day.

Upon close inspection of the discovery, 血性小子 realized she was looking at firebricks. 比普通砖多孔性小, firebricks are exceptionally heat resistant and still used to line fireplaces, 炉和锅炉房. “它们看起来一模一样,”她说. “In fact, we have similar firebricks in the campus’s gas-fired boiler rooms today.”

但在9月27日这悲惨的一天, 1896, 当时神学院大楼发生了火灾, 煤炭为王. 巨大的四层建筑, where Mount Holyoke students spent almost all of their time — sleeping, 吃, studying and exercising — was heated by a coal-fired steam boiler system. 地热工程工人, gingerly digging with hand tools to avoid disturbing the brickwork, discovered the base of the coal-burning boiler room at the rear southeastern corner of the Seminary Building. 宏伟的外墙, 以两层广场为特色, stood over College Street roughly between where the Williston Library and chapel buildings stand today.

大火完全烧毁了神学院大楼, leaving nothing standing but shards of exterior brick walls. 奇迹般地, 没有人受伤或死亡,但在一夜之间, the heart of the College’s campus had almost vanished.


Forget about today’s campus spread across more than 700 acres for a moment. 想象一下一个长方形的砖砌建筑, 94英尺宽,50英尺深, looming over young elm trees and neighboring houses in the small vill年龄 of South Hadley. This was the scene in 1837, when the first students arrived in November. The Seminary Building essentially was the institution, then called 霍利奥克山女子神学院. 在19世纪, the word “seminary” didn’t have today’s strong theological connotations; it could be used to describe college preparatory, 大学, 研究生或专业培训学校.)

“这座建筑满足了所有的用途,”他说 黛博拉·理查兹, Mount Holyoke College’s head of Archives and Special Collections. 它以宿舍为特色, 教师的住所, 洗衣房, 教室, 体育馆, 业务办公室, 电梯, dining hall and kitchen (in the basement) and power plant. Founder Mary Lyon and her successors, along with all students, lived in the building. “It grew and developed as the seminary grew and changed,理查兹说.

By 1896, 当悲剧发生时, a succession of additions (including the coal power plant built in 1865) turned the initial rectangular building into a much larger squarish structure enclosing a four-sided courtyard.

“这是一个高度结构化的过程, very close-knit community of students and their teachers,理查兹说. 学生们帮忙做饭和打扫房间. 没有家政人员. “It was very much a community of young women living with their female teachers.”

尽管这场大火是毁灭性的, the school — which in 1893 changed its name to Mount Holyoke College — did not close for rebuilding. 而不是, 当地居民安置学生, 课程在图书馆大楼举行, 哪位消防队员成功救了人.

“We learned … that all the townspeople were our friends,” President 伊丽莎白·斯托尔斯·米德 在给大学受托人的报告中写道. “他们向无家可归的人敞开大门, and … every student was provided with shelter for the night.”

What emerged from the ashes of disaster was a commitment to build a new and stronger College through a newly envisioned campus. “It was a fresh start for the College to reimagine how it wanted to be a college,理查兹说. “They had the opportunity to rethink what campus could be.”

在火灾发生后的几个月甚至几年里, 土地被征用, 新的景观开始形成, 有单独的宿舍楼, 政府, 体育馆和教室. 一个现代化的校园诞生了.

Yet even as dramatic changes transformed the campus between 1896 and 2023, portions of the Seminary foundation sat undisturbed just a few feet underground. (Contract workers also found common bricks, a few small glass bottles and pieces of pottery.) A few of the bricks discovered in June will be permanently preserved by Richard’s Archives and Special Collections team.

“Being able to hold something substantial from the actual building — it’s very exciting,理查兹说.

新发现的砖块也被展示给 丹尼尔·R总裁. 华立, tangibly connecting the newly inaugurated leader to the College’s earliest days. “这很特别,”扬布拉德说.

也值得关注, 她补充说, is the fact that part of campus’s original fossil fuel–burning infrastructure was found while laying the groundwork for “state-of-the-art h吃 technology.“多阶段地热能源项目, which began this year and is scheduled to be completed in 2030, is a top priority of President 华立’s and a key step toward becoming 碳中和 到2037年,学院成立200周年.

“校园在不断发展,杨布拉德说。, noting that the discovery of the firebricks and other artifacts hasn’t affected the geothermal project’s schedule.


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