The Central Quadrangle

73 The Central Quadrangle With the construction of Starr Library and Warner Hall the composition of the front campus was essentially complete, but the College kept growing in endowment and in students. Under Ezra Brainerd’s successor, President Thomas, new directions were charted for campus growth to the west and to the north. Thus between 1912 and 1916 work went forward on a new quadrangle behind Old Stone Row.

74 McCullough Student Center Built as a gymnasium in 1912 with funds largely provided by ex-governor John G. McCullough, this building by W. Nicholas Albertson of New York City marks another change in style for the campus. Not Vermont mill building or classical Beaux-Arts1, this is vaguely colonial. Its symmetrical massing, round-arched windows, entry pavilion, hipped roof, and cupola evoke the Georgian style of our eighteenth century. However, the execution is not in Georgian wood and brick, but rather in Vermont marble. The allusion, too, to a colonial past (which might seem particularly suitable for a New England college) ironically enough, has little to do with Middlebury’s origins. The town was barely chartered — let alone the college under way — when such construction was in vogue in Boston and the Middle Atlantic colonies.

The gymnasium served first men, then (after 1949) women. In 1963 the competition-sized Arthur M. Brown Swimming Pool was appended to the rear of the structure (in 1996 the pool was replaced with a larger one in the field house complex). With the consolidation of the College athletic facilities in the fieldhouse complex, McCullough was converted first for use by the College’s dance program and then (1988–1990) totally remodeled and expanded by the architectural firm of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer for use as a student center with the addition of twin polygonal pavilions to the east and west. In 2000 the transformation was completed with the conversion of the old swimming pool space into the Grille (by Freeman, French, and Freeman of Burlington). This colorful multi-level, multi-function space incorporates a juice bar, a short order counter, game and TV rooms, and galleries of tables and booths focusing on a stage and dance floor on the lower level and a free-standing timber-framed pavilion reached by bridges on the upper level.

McCullough Gymnasium in 1915. Source

75 Voter Hall Built in 1912–1913 as a chemistry building, Voter Hall (also designed by Albertson) matches Warner Hall in massing and McCullough Student Center in placement and character.

It was completely renovated in 1970 to accommodate administrative offices on the ground floor and residential suites above. In 1988 the lower floors were renovated yet again to house the College’s computer center, subsequently moved to Davis Library.

At the top of the hill overlooking the “quadrangle” and mirroring Old Stone Row in composition are Middlebury’s strongest statements in the Colonial Revival style.

76 Hepburn Hall The earliest of this group to be constructed was Middlebury’s first fireproof dormitory, Hepburn Hall (1914–1916), the gift of A. Barton Hepburn, class of 1871. The design of Rossiter and Muller of New York City, this dominating structure is finely proportioned and academically more correct than the more vigorous McCullough and Voter below. True to its times, it is much larger in scale than such Georgian prototypes as those at William and Mary and Harvard Yard. The flavor is much more that of the Harvard houses of the 1920s. In material, however, Hepburn departed from the style. The donor, who thought stone buildings were funereal, had specified his favorite yellow brick! After his death the building was painted gray in an attempt to relate it more closely with the general vocabulary of the campus. The former dining room of the hall came to be known popularly as the “Hepburn Zoo” — not because of the eating habits of the students, but because it was adorned with Hepburn’s collection of hunting trophies. The “Zoo” is often used as a workshop theatre for student productions.

Hepburn Hall and Middlebury Chapel in 1930 before the construction of Gifford Hall. Source

To the south of Hepburn Hall is Stewart Hall, a residential unit built in 1956.

77 Middlebury Chapel (formerly Mead Chapel) The new chapel (1916) was the gift of ex-governor John A. Mead in honor of the 50th anniversary of his graduation. He specified that it be set at the highest point on the campus so that it should catch the first rays of morning sun and the last light of evening. The work of Allen and Collens of Boston, it draws freely upon the vocabularies of the American classical styles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in its translation of the traditional New England meeting house into marble. Thus one finds a Greek Revival temple front, Georgian doors and windows, and Federal tower. Above the colonnade is inscribed a quotation from Psalm XCV: “The strength of the hills is His also.” Construction exceeding Mead’s budget, the rear façade was executed in wood. The tower originally housed a carillon of eleven Meneely bells, expanded to 48 chimes by the gift of board chairman Alan Dragone in 1986. Within the building is a beautiful, Georgian-inspired sanctuary with galleries on three sides (the lateral ones added to accommodate the expanding student body in 1938). The chancel contains the college’s magnificent Gress-Miles organ, installed in 1971.

Chapel attendance was mandatory, with attendance taken, until the 1960s. Since that time, besides serving as a venue for Sunday services, the chapel has remained an important venue for weddings, college events, major lectures, and concerts.

Middlebury removed the name “Mead” from its chapel in 2021 because of Governor John A. Mead’s role in advancing eugenics policy in the early 20th century. The building is now referred to as Middlebury Chapel. 

78 Gifford Hall The final building in the group was not built until 1940. The gift of Mrs. James M. Gifford, it was designed by John Muller of New York City and matches the general design of the Rossiter-Muller Hepburn Hall to the south. However, it is executed in the more usual campus limestone, with very fine Neo-Georgian woodwork detailing inside and out.

Gifford Hall in the 1940s. Source: Middlebury College Special Collections.

79 Munroe Hall The gift of Charles Munroe ’96 of New York City, this classroom and office building was erected in 1941 and serves as the home of many of the departments in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Another of John Muller’s Neo-Georgian designs, it is executed in the same Weybridge limestone used in Old Stone Row. There is a bronze sculpture of a dog catching a Frisbee in front of the building. By Patrick Farrow of Rutland, Vt., it commemorates the tradition that the Frisbee was “invented” by a group of Middlebury students using metal pie plates in the 1950s.

80 Proctor Hall This building behind the crest of the hill, named in honor of the late governor Redfield Proctor, was built in 1960 by the Burlington firm of Freeman French and Freeman as a student center. It still houses dining facilities, College store, lounges, and the College radio station WRMC-FM.

81 Franklin Environmental Center This former farmhouse (c. 1880) in the Italianate style long served the college as Hillcrest dormitory. It was renovated and expanded in 2007 by Smith Alvarez Sienkewicz architects into a LEED Platinum facility to house Middlebury’s Environmental Studies program (founded in 1965), the oldest undergraduate environmental program in the country, and as a demonstration of the potentials for upgrading historic structures to the highest contemporary environmental standards.

  1. a tradition of showy, formal architecture, usually in a classically-inspired vocabulary, fostered by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and popular in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
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