Biographical / Historical
From 1800 until 1819, the Middlebury campus consisted of one building, referred to as East College, whose use was shared jointly with the graded school of the town of Middlebury. Gamaliel Painter, a Middlebury resident and founding father of the college, donated the materials to erect Painter Hall, the oldest extant college building in Vermont. By its Centennial celebration in 1900, Middlebury’s physical plant consisted of 4 buildings: Painter Hall (1819), Old Chapel (1836), Starr Hall (1864) (collectively known as Old Stone Row), and the recently dedicated Egbert Starr Library (1900). These buildings, constituting the entire campus, were situated on property donated to the College by Col. Seth Storrs, a founder and Charter Trustee of the College. Warner Science Hall was dedicated in 1901.
President John Martin Thomas (1908-1921, Class of 1890) enlarged and transformed the campus, increasing the acreage eight-fold to 244 acres, and building Pearsons Hall (1911), Adirondack House (purchased 1909), McCullough Gymnasium (1912), Voter Hall (1913), and Hepburn and Mead Chapel (both 1916). Thomas also established a relationship with trustee alumnus Joseph Battell which eventually led to Battell’s bequest to the college of 30,000 acres of mountain property, now the Bread Loaf campus.
The Music Studio (a 1925 gift), Chateau (1926), the wings of Starr Library (1928), Forest Hall (1936), Gifford Hall (1940), and Munroe Hall (1941) were added during President Paul D. Moody’s tenure (1922-1942). President Samuel S. Stratton (1943-1963) availed himself of military connections to procure an airplane hangar, which was dismantled, shipped and reassembled on campus as the new men’s gymnasium, Memorial Field House (1949), and continued to expand the campus with women’s dormitories Battell Halls (1950,1955) and Allen Hall (1961); a men’s dormitory, Stewart Hall (1957); a fine arts building Carr Hall (1951); a theatre and workshop, Wright Theatre (1958); a student union, Proctor Hall (1960); an indoor pool, the Brown Pool (1963), which was attached to McCullough Gym; and an addition to Starr Library (1962).
Intent to increase the endowment, President James Armstrong (1963-1975) immediately embarked on a campaign that raised $8.3 million. The first new building constructed was Sunderland Language Center (1965), followed by Johnson Memorial Music and Art Building (1968), the Science Center (1968), four dormitories – Kelly, Hadley, Lang, and Milliken Halls (1969-1971) - on the ridgeline north of Pearsons Hall, and a social dining unit, Cook, Freeman, and Hamlin (1970). The new decade saw the construction of Paris Fletcher Field House (1973) and two chalet-styled residences named Atwater and Davis (1974).
The building efforts during the administration of Middlebury College’s 15th president, John M. McCardell, dwarfed the efforts of his predecessors. It began with the Center for the Arts (1991-92), and followed with athletic facilities, including Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium(1991), the Natatorium (1996), and Kenyon Ice Arena (1999). Student housing to accommodate the commons living system began with the Ridgeline Houses (1997). There were major renovations and recommissioned structures, including Chellis House (1993), Meeker House (1999, formerly Sigma Epsilon House), Munford House (1999, formerly Chi Psi Lodge), the filling of the old Brown Pool for the subsequent expansion of the McCullough Student Center (1998). Bicentennial Hall (1999) which houses six science departments, is the largest college building in the state of Vermont.
The Science Center was demolished beginning in 2002 to make way for the Davis Family Library (2004, named in 2010), at the beginning of President Ronald Leibowitz’s tenure. After the transfer of all library offices and contents, the Starr Library was completely renovated and expanded and became the Axinn Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library (2008).