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Middlebury College

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1800 chartered. Between College St. and S. Main St., Middlebury village

The campus of Middlebury College occupies a rising green landscape at the western edge of the village. In its planning and array of dignified stone buildings it reflects major movements in collegiate design over its two-hundred-year history and incorporates works by a number of significant twentieth-century architects.

Chartered in 1800, the college took Yale University as a curricular and physical model during its first century. It rapidly outgrew shared quarters in the Addison County Grammar School building (1798; razed 1867) near the present intersection of Main and College streets. In 1810 the college began planning a new campus on a ridge west of the village, and by 1811 it announced plans for what is now known as Old Stone Row, modeled on Yale's Old Brick Row (1792), which John Trumbull designed as an alternation of broadside dormitories with gable-front chapel and academic buildings overlooking the New Haven Green. Now demolished save for Connecticut Hall, the Yale row was an influential prototype for early-nineteenth-century campus construction. Middlebury's version is one of the best extant examples of the type. Built of local limestone, it has three components: Painter Hall (AD30.1), Old Chapel (AD30.2), and Starr Hall (1860; 1864 burned; 1865 rebuilt), all facing a picturesque grove that descends toward the village. At the turn of the century, the New York City partnership of York and Sawyer added terminal components at right angles to the row. The Beaux-Arts Starr Library (AD30.3) and Warner Science Building (1901) were built of Vermont marble and joined by a formal maple allee to give a City Beautiful aspect to the campus. In 1959–1962 the Boston firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott added a marble-clad International Style reading room to Starr Library. For the downhill side of the front campus, The Architects Collaborative (TAC) designed a Brutalist Science Center in 1968 that blocked the traditional relationship between campus and village. It was dismantled in 2002 to make way for a new library. This stone and marble building by Gwathmey Siegel Associates is set as the eastern terminus of the walk from the chapel.

Behind Old Stone Row sits the main quadrangle. W. Nicholas Albertson of New York designed its first two buildings, the marble-clad, Georgian Revival Voter and McCullough halls (1912–1913). The quad was closed by a Colonial Revival counterpart to the row atop the next ridge to the west—Hepburn Hall (1914–1916) by Rossiter and Muller of New York City; Mead Chapel (1916) by Allen and Collens of Boston; and Gifford Hall (1940) by John Muller, who was also the designer of Munroe Hall (1941). The uniformity of material and formal coordination of the buildings make this quadrangle the finest City Beautiful ensemble in the state. Beyond the chapel grouping, on the descending face of the western ridge, is a new, picturesque area of domestically scaled residence halls, including Brackett and Brooker (1997) designed by Boston architect Jeremiah Eck.

The area north of College Street was originally conceived as a women's campus with a series of masterplans by W. Nicholas Albertson, Dwight James Baum of New York City, and eventually McKim, Mead and White—all Colonial Revival—and by Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott in a Brutalist mode. None of these schemes was executed as pro posed, but each firm designed at least one building: Albertson, the Georgian Revival Pearsons Hall (1911); Baum, the Georgian Revival Forest Hall (1936); McKim, Mead and White, the classical Wright Memorial Theatre (1958); Jean Paul Carlihan for Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott, the Brutalist Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building (1968). Terminating the northeast quadrangle of the campus is Le Château (1925), a French-language dormitory styled by James Layng Mills of Boston, after Pavilion Henry IV at the Palace of Fontainebleau.

Giving form to the northern and western edges of the campus are four contemporary buildings that draw upon the materials and vocabulary of older campus structures: Atwater Commons (AD30.6); Coffrin Hall (1985) by Edward Larrabee Barnes of New York City; Bicentennial Hall (1997–1999) by Boston's Payette Associates; and Ross Commons senior housing and dining (2000–2002) by Tai Soo Kim Associates from Hartford, Connecticut.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Middlebury College", [Middlebury, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 124-125.

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