Connecticut College Magazine · Summer 2012

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Former Dean of the College Jewel Plummer Cobb with Beverly Clark Prince '72 in Cobb's lab at Connecticut College. Photo courtesy of the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives.

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History in the making

History in the making

25 campus buildings listed on State Register of Historic Places

by Monica Raymunt '09


Following its Centennial year, Connecticut College continues to celebrate its history with the completion of a survey that lists 25 campus buildings on the State Register of Historic Places.

Ulysses Hammond, vice president for administration, applauded the news, which recognizes the significance of the College's founding and its pivotal role in the history of American higher education for women.

“With this listing,” Hammond says, “the historical significance of our campus structures will be preserved in perpetuity.”

Blake McDonald '10, an assistant architectural historian for the Public Archaeological Laboratory in Pawtucket, R.I., prepared the survey on behalf of New London Landmarks, a nonprofit committed to the preservation of the city's history.

“The state's approval of this survey acknowledges just how special (the College's) narrative is by recognizing the campus and buildings thereon as valuable historic assets,” McDonald says.

Sandra Kersten Chalk, executive director of New London Landmarks, took notice of McDonald, an architectural studies major, when he earned the 2010 Oakes and Louise Ames Prize for his honors thesis about the College's architectural history. When the organization applied for a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office to survey the College's buildings, McDonald topped the list of qualified researchers.

“Everyone agreed he was obviously the one to do the survey,” Chalk says.

McDonald began working on the survey last year, taking photographs and cataloging basic information — construction material, architectural changes, role in the College's history — about nearly every building on the main campus, excluding the Plex and the College Center at Crozier-Williams.

He completed the survey in the fall, and the State Historic Preservation Office officially recognized the buildings as historic resources in February. A copy of McDonald's report will be available at the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives in Shain Library.

As state historic resources, the 25 buildings may be eligible for state restoration funds and special consideration for renovations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The listing also encourages local and state agencies to make special considerations with projects that might affect the College's buildings.

“What the survey does,” McDonald says, “is give us an added level of protection against outside development (and) opens the College up to seek financial assistance to do historically sensitive repairs.”

Hammond adds, “I anticipate that this may provide additional opportunities for the College's campus improvement program.”

The State Historic Preservation Office previously worked with the College to list two other campus buildings on the National Register of Historic Places: the Winslow Ames House and the adjacent steel house that is now undergoing restoration. Both also received Historic Restoration Fund Grants.


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