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Emmanuel College (Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Convent and Academy of Notre Dame, 1914–1919; Emmanuel College, 1919–present)

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Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Convent and Academy of Notre Dame, 1914–1919; Emmanuel College, 1919–present
1913–1916, Maginnis and Walsh; 1998 chapel restoration, Keefe Associates. 400 The Fenway.
  • Simmons College, Main Building

Emmanuel College was the first Roman Catholic college for women in New England. The entrance pavilion marks the original division of the structure into a secluded convent to the east for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Convent and an academy for girls to the west. The French Order was established in 1804 to promote the education of young women. Founded by Sister Helen Madeleine in 1919 and incorporated in 1921, Emmanuel College today enrolls 1,500 students on its sixteen-acre campus.

The original edifice is a picturesque Collegiate Gothic composition showing full command of mass and line. The facade rises in three stages from east to west, culminating in the pinnacle of the square tower and then dropping to the projecting ogee-arched entrance with its concentration of lavish ornament, a Maginnis and Walsh signature. This staged treatment not only diminishes the potential weightiness of the monumental 400–foot brick block but also distinguishes it from the more severely classical style of neighboring institutions. The expansive recessed fenestration and the tall narrow Gothic arches that pierce the tower contribute to the impression of lightness.

The ornate entrance, in the center of the E-shaped plan, is on axis with the sumptuous Gothic Revival chapel, with stained glass windows depicting women saints. Emmanuel's architectural future revolves around collaborations with medical research institutions in the area.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Keith N. Morgan
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Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 189-189.

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