Sasaki, Dawson, DeMay Associates, Inc., July 1966. Click here to download a pdf of this report.
The Hampshire College property covers 434 acres in the southern parts of Amherst and Hadley. The land varies from gently rolling farmland and orchards to the precipitous slope of the Holyoke Mountain Range. Bay Road separates the farmland to the north from the mountains to the south. The site is further divided under two political jurisdictions; the western portion lies in Hadley, the eastern in Amherst.
The prime developable area on the site is presently considered to be 120 acres of open land north of Bay Road in Amherst. There are practically no limitations imposed by slope except where the land rises from Bay Road on the east side.
A pocket of poorly drained land exists on the northeast portion of the Amherst parcel. Other sluggish drainage areas have been noted in the scrub woods, near the Amherst-Hadley line north of Bay Road. These pockets of poorly drained land are not considered prime building sites.
The tree cover on the campus north of Bay Road is generally not of significant value. There are, however, individual specimen trees and twenty acres of apple orchards which are a distinctive and positive asset. At present, the orchards are leased and maintained by a fruit grower. Continuation of the arrangement might be considered after the campus is developed.
Most of the land south of Bay Road above the 300' elevation (approximately 90 acres) is not suited to economic building and open space development because of steepness and forests. The scenic value and recreation potential of this land is important to the College. The mountain is an important part of the visual background to the main campus north of Bay Road. Adjacent properties on the mountain side owned by Amherst College, the Federal Government and the town of Hadley will probably remain undeveloped for the foreseeable future.
The general orientation of the site is north toward Amherst. From the mountainside south of Bay Road one sees the magnificent Valley of the Connecticut River. Lower, on prime building land north of Bay Road, the view is less far reaching but sweeps a full 360 degrees to surrounding hills and mountains.
An investigation of subsurface soil conditions was made by a soils engineer to determine the feasibility of economic building development. The detailed findings of the geological reconnaissance, based on 7 to 10 foot test pit excavations, are found in Appendix B.
The Hampshire College site falls in an area once covered by a glacial lake which stretched from southern Connecticut to northern Vermont. A beach line marking one edge of the lake has been found on the property south of Bay Road. As it receded, the lake left extensive deposits of clays and plastic silts in the Valley. The reconnaissance confirmed that though these unstable soils occur beneath the site, they are confined to a very small portion to the west and northwest below 220' elevation. The majority of the site is covered by glacial till or till with outwash deposits consisting of stratified sands and gravels. To quote from the engineer's report:
"The site from the standpoint of soils and foundations is excellent. Buildings could be supported on economical shallow spread footings throughout the site. In small areas at the lower elevations along the western border and at the northwest corner of the site cohesive lake deposits underlie alluvial sands. If buildings of more than two stories were to be constructed in these areas additional explorations should be made to determine thickness, extent and consolidation characteristics of the clay soils. In all other areas the soil at the site could support high rise structures on shallow footings after stripping organic materials.
"It is our opinion that bedrock will not be a problem at this site for shallow excavations in the order of 10 feet or less. If deeper excavations are planned, then the possibility of encountering bedrock in the cuts must be considered.
"The earthwork required for site grading and road construction will be economical as it is not expected that rock excavation will be required. Also there are sands and gravel deposits on the site to utilize as fill and even for base courses under paved areas." (p.1-3)
At present, there are four farms and a single house existing on the site. One farmhouse on West Street is being converted into temporary headquarters for the College administration. Two other houses and three acres surrounding each are held in life tenancy. The remaining structures which border West Street and Bay Road are old, in poor repair and do not appear to be of any significant historic or architectural value... (p. 3)
A Master Plan is being prepared now for the Town of Amherst, and Hampshire College has an unusual opportunity to contribute to its development. The land of South Amherst between Fort River and the Holyoke Mt. Range is still open. By articulating its ideas to the town and the Planning Board, the College can be instrumental in the planning and development of the area. Continuing interest in new development which will supply housing and service-commercial facilities is consistent with the College's concern to be a part of a vital and beautiful community. (p. 5)
In addition to the overall need for comprehensive planning for the entire South Amherst community, certain key development problems have emerged. The most important development considerations are: first, the location of Route 9 through South Amherst; second, the location of additional service commercial centers in South Amherst; third, the disposition of major areas of land with great conservation and recreation potential; fourth, of more concern to the College, the control of the foreground and approaches to the College along Bay Road and West Street. (p. 6)
by Hugh Stubbins and Associates, Architects and Planners. 1970. Click here to download a pdf of the entire document.
Guidelines for the Master Plan were established and recorded in The Making of a College...
"The campus design should express in every possible way the distinctive social and educational character of Hampshire College.
"The essential feature of the campus design is a combination of centralization and decentralization, both capable of substantial expansion...an inner-city or College Center, with major facilities and variegated campus-wide services and opportunities efficiently but interestingly centralized, surrounded by a series of relatively small residential-academic coeducational clusters, called Houses...
"The campus design, while helping state the distinctive identity of the College should not present the institution as a walled tower but as an `open city,' with a sense of relatedness to the surrounding world in which it exists.
"The campus design should capture some of the variety and richness of city life...some of the quality of small, coherent living communities, and some of the serenity and openness of the rural scene." (p.4)
Harold F. Johnson Library Center. Extending the traditional concept of the library as repository of printed knowledge, the Hampshire facility stresses the communication of knowledge through all available media. It provides not only a place to retrieve information but a place to experiment and a place to exchange ideas. In addition to books, it houses an Information Transfer Center, two-story display gallery, bookstore, post office, and sky-lighted kiva lounge.
Natural Science Facility. Physical facilities for the School of Natural Science are, as in the school itself, an experiment in flexibility. The intent is to provide an environment with full opportunity for study and experiment, yet without rigid barriers between fixed labels of discipline. (p.15-16)
Academic Building. The first satellite academic building is strategically located at the gateway to the southeast complex, its entrance courtyard serving as an important gathering point for students and faculty en route between college center and residential facilities. Teaching spaces range from tutorial offices to large lecture halls.
Residences/Houses I and II. Coeducational residences are organized around a series of interconnected quadrangles. Student rooms--predominently singles--are grouped in small suites with living rooms, kitchen and bath facilities for each suite. (p.18-19)
[These were some of the original landowners of the Hampshire campus, here interviewed by President Longsworth.]
CL: I'll be able to say to people that I'm introducing Howard Atkins who is one of the major fruit growers in the area, whose family has been in South Amherst--how long, Howard?
HA: Well, my father moved into South Amherst in 1888, along with his father, in other words my grandfather.
CL: Was he a fruit grower then?
HA: He was not really a fruit grower. He used to sell by peddling, apple trees, raspberry bushes and what not, going house to house with a horse and wagon. Then, because he was in merchandising of trees and shrubs, etc., he had some MacIntosh trees with him. MacIntosh as a variety was discovered in Canada, only a few years earlier than 1888. I don't know exactly when, but it might have been in the 1860's or 70's. And so, he set out thirteen MacIntosh trees. I believe that those were the first MacIntosh trees anywhere in this area. My father purchased Mt. Pollux, which you can see from Hampshire College looking straight to the east. On top of the hill are now two maple trees that my father set out. In 1950, I wanted to put in a peach orchard on top of the hill. And so, I had bulldozed out the old apple trees that he had set out, probably around 1900. Mostly Baldwins. And these two maple trees are in the way. And so I said to Dad, "I'd like to take out those two trees." And my father was then 80, and he said, "Howard, let's wait a little bit." Well, you know, they're going to stay there as long as I live, as long as they don't blow over. It was just his way of getting his message across without saying dogmatically, "No, don't do it."
CL: But you've inherited a lot of that viewpoint, now, haven't you, Howard. After all, you own a lot of land in South Amherst, and you've got a major responsibility for contributing how the area goes, with all this pressure.
HA: Yes, I've certainly soaked in this philosophy, of being concerned about the area. I suppose it's in large part the way I was brought up. My father was a selectman for 36 years, and I was born right here in South Amherst, so that I had the town philosophy, or my father's philosophy of town government. We heard about it at the table, seven days a week, you might say. Public responsibility was always something that was expected, and if one had the capability and the time, one had ought to do his duty.
CL: So, the Critchet farm was the one that was right here at the corner, where your stand is, and part of which we bought.
HA: That's right. On that 250 acres about 50 was located in what I call the northwest corner, which is where Hampshire College is located, bounded by West Street on the east, mostly on the east, and bounded on the south by Bay Road. In this quadrant is 50 acres of which about 20 acres was in apple trees, mostly Cortland, but some Red Romes, and some Red Delicious, and some MacIntosh. And standing today are most of those trees. The parking lot to the south of the school reduced the size of the Red Rome and Cortland blocks to some extent, and the center of the construction that we now have going on here at Hampshire College eradicated a good part of the MacIntosh orchard, but the balance is about the same as it was when the school purchased this land from me.
CL: Let's talk about that a little bit, Howard. Remember when I first approached you on the subject? What was your reaction?
HA: Well, my reaction was that it just couldn't be, because it was just too big a thing to pull off. It was too good a thing to have happen. The good things don't seem to come that easy. Well, by now I think that, Charlie, you wouldn't say there's anything easy about it.
CL: No, no. You're more skeptical than you were, aren't you?
HA: Well, I got over being skeptical when I saw the brick and the mortar rising above the level of the land. At that point I began to realize that there was going to be a school for sure.
Robert and Cornelia Stiles:
RS: Fifty years ago, education was a little different [unintelligible] it's hard to teach you anything. Little different now. And we're really looked up to. Back in the late 50's, there was a story about having a fifth college here. And they--Mt. Holyoke, guy at the commissary, asked me one day about it, and I said, "My old farm would make a very good college," way back then. And we sort of dreamed about it in those days. I asked the Town Manager what he thought the chances were of getting something done to get rid of the place here, or sell it, and he said he would send over some developers if I'd like. I told him it would make a nice college, and he wasn't very interested in colleges, he said. But as it turned out, it was very nearly perfect.
CL: I remember when Roy Blair came down, and he mentioned--you asked Roy, I think, what the people wanted to buy the farm for, and Roy said he couldn't say. Is that true?
RS: That's true.
CL: Tell me that story. That's a good one.
RS: Roy said that he was sorry but they wanted it kept quiet, he couldn't tell us a thing about it.
CS: We asked him.
RS: We asked Roy if it had anything to do with a fifth college, and he said--he was very evasive, and said that he couldn't say. But when he went out the door, he said, "Bob, you struck it pretty near right. But don't say anything."
CL: It's made quite a change in your lives, hasn't it?
CS: Oh, it has.
CL: You'll like when the students arrive?
CS: Well, we have to take that in consideration.
CL: What do you mean?
CS: I don't know. I think it will be--it all depends on the students.
RS: They're going to be all right.
CS: It will be nice to have young people around.
CL: You've seen some of them around, of course, already. They look all right?
RS: They're all right.
CS: I think they'll be just fine.
RS: And then again, they aren't right in our back yard anyway, are they?
CL: No, they'll be up in the pasture, I guess, where the cows used to be.
RS: What we've seen so far has been--over at the Admissions Office as they came in, I met quite a few of them, and they seem to be nice.
CL: Is it true that you were born in what's now the President's office?
CL: Were you, Cornelia?
RS: She was three years old when she came down.
CL: Oh, from Charlemont.
CS: I've lived here sixty-seven years.
CS: And I was about four years old.
CL: You've lived here for sixty-four years, is that right? And how long did you farm?
RS: Well, I came back in the 30's. Went down to Clark University--never decided what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I haven't yet.
CL: Well, if it hadn't been for your farms, we wouldn't have any campus like we have. Almost all the main buildings are on your former land.
CL: You're working very hard, I know, to get the College open. It must seem like quite a change, since the Spring of 1965 when I came to call on you, and you were a dairy farmer, and you didn't know what I was, and we used to go out there and get kicked by the cows together. It's a little different, isn't it?
AW: Well, it is quite a difference. It is quite a difference.
CL: You had, what, 60 acres of, you and your mother had 60 acres of land, which is the place you still live, and we bought it, and that kind of completed the land acquisition for the College. What did you think when I first came down?
AW: Well, I just thought you were a speculator. And I figured, well, if the guy can come over here and buy the place, and try to wait and make some money on it, why can't I hold on to it, and do the same thing?
CL: You were already living there anyway, weren't you?
AW: I was making a living. I mean I had to work hard for it.
CL: How many years had you been a dairy farmer?
AW: Well, ever since I was a kid.
CL: And you don't get away from those cows, do you?
AW: No, seven days a week, regardless whether you're sick or not sick.
CL: Two times a day, right? I used to come over at five o'clock in the morning, and there you were.
AW: Right. And any time you came down you always found me doing something around the place.
CL: I sure did. You and your wife were out haying, milking cows...
AW: She used to till silage, she used to drive the truck. I used to drive the tractor and the chopper. She drove the truck.
CL: Well, then, okay, there you were a dairy farmer, and you thought I was a speculator. What changed your mind?
AW: Well, after I found out that it was going to be a college.
CL: So you found out it was going to be a college. What difference does that make?
AW: Well, I never had a chance to get an education. And I figured, a lot of these kids haven't got a chance either. It's like the University. A lot of kids would like to go, but they haven't got the room. So I figured that if I could help some other kids along in it, I'd be glad to do it. This is why afterwards I changed my mind.
CL: I know you're used to working, and you're not missing any opportunities now, I know.
AW: Just as hard for the College as if I were working for myself. I enjoy working with everybody, because I started here, when there was just a little handful of us. I believe there was only fifteen or sixteen of us. And I still know everybody, and I met a lot more, and everybody is very sociable...I don't know how to say it.
CL: It's a little different from working alone, actually, isn't it? It's more of a social experience.
AW: Right. Because--so what the hell, you get out to the barn, who are you going to talk to, the cows?
CL: You get the sense here that a lot of other people do, you're part of something that's growing and can be shared.
AW: It's just like working for myself. Like building up the farm. The same way, you're trying to bring the thing up, and well, make it look good, take care of it. It's about the same over here.
CL: You've done just about everything, if I remember. You built that deck out behind Blair Hall, and of course, you've done all kinds of maintenance work--you've painted, you've plumbed...
AW: Yes, and we've made even these "love seats" there in Montague Hall there.
CL: I guess a farmer can do anything if he has to.
AW: Well, this is what a farmer is. A farmer has to be everything. I just--I know, when I first started, I was wondering if I would live long enough to see this place open.
CL: A lot of us were wondering that. Did you have any doubts that it would open?
AW: Well, no. Of course, it was quite a grind for everybody. Everybody was pushing. And of course, I have to give Bob Stiles a lot of credit. He's done a lot for us, too, around here. And I enjoy coming up here and talking with him. And we worked together a lot of times, even weekends when we didn't have to.
CL: It's hard to find people like you nowadays, Andy. I don't see all that many people that are really interested in getting involved and committing themselves to something.
AW: Well, we hired a couple. Andy Dumbrowski for one, and Joe Kielbasa. I think they've kicked in, and worked pretty hard, too.
CL: They sure have. Two neighbors of yours, aren't they? Right down the street?
AW: Right. One's down the street, one's up the street
CL: And they're both Polish?
AW: Both Polish. I'm a Ukranian.
CL: We've worked hard. The hard work may be ahead of us, now, you know, with the students coming.
[Bob Stiles, one of the original landowners of the Hampshire campus, worked in the Post Office for many years, and was honored by President Adele Simmons with the title "Father of the College". This is his recollection of the founding of Hampshire.]
by Robert Stiles.
For the 1950's and early sixties I supplied Mount Holyoke College with apples and eggs. One day in the Fall of 1958 I heard the Mount Holyoke staff talking about the idea of starting a fifth college. They had heard that a 1918 graduate from Amherst College was successful in making a fortune on the New York Stock Market and Amherst College was looking for his money. As it happened this Amherst College alumnus, Harold Johnson, did not pledge anything to Amherst College, but told them he would give six million dollars to start a new college.
Years passed and I didn't forget how wonderful it would be to have the new college located on this farm. In 1912 the town water line piped water to the farm. By 1963 our galvanized pipes began to leak. My neighbor, Paul Thorpe, told me before I hired anyone I must ask the town fathers who to hire. He had trouble with hiring someone they didn't like. I waited a little less than three months to have the water line repaired. While talking to the people in the town hall I said I have a lot of land and didn't know what to do with it. Also, it would be a good site for the new college. I was told Amherst had too many students in town now and too many colleges too. They would send a developer over to see me but would do nothing for a new college. (One town official must have changed his mind.) In the early sixties someone tried to buy the farm for a golf course, and the Univ. of Mass. was interested in buying it for an apple orchard. They thought the soil was ideal for fruit. Still my mind was thinking about a college. My mother made my dad move to Amherst from a small hill town because she thought her children could have a better education in a college town.
The spring of 1965 was on us. One morning a life-long friend stopped to see my sister and me. He told us that a group of people called the Trustees of Tinker Hill were interested in buying our property. They didn't have much money and were not sure the sale would go through, but they wanted a ninety day option. Before the ninety day option was over the Trustees of Tinker Hill owned our farm. They then bought as much land as they wanted.
The following year our first College president, Dr. Franklin Patterson, arrived on the scene. He and Charles Longsworth in a very short time wrote, with the help of their faithful and skillful secretaries, Virginia Aldrich, Ruth Hammen, and Dorothy Anderson, a book almost five hundred pages long, The Making of a College. In September 1966 about my first job was packaging books to mail all over the country. Mail was most important, with a trip to the Amherst Post Office three times a day, and lunches to pick up each noon. Outside, Andrew Weneczk and I tried to tear down and clean up many of the small buildings no longer wanted around the properties of Hampshire College. There were a few miles of barbed wire fences we had to remove as well. Not thinking about the necessity of a business office, our founders had a thirty year old cow barn removed and later built the business office on the old foundation of the old barn.
As the days passed by in the Spring of 1967 thoughts turned to buildings and where to build those buildings. And the water pipe along with a road to the campus had to be made. Dr. Patterson was in his office day after day--even Sundays--planning what should be done next. Charles Longsworth used the north front room in the house that is the Admission building now. Beside the buildings having to be built, the faculty had to be chosen. Among others Frank Smith was hired and almost immediately became the Dean of Humanities and Arts; Robert Birney, a member of the 1966 Educational Advisory Committee, became Dean of Social Science; Dr. Hafner started as Dean of Natural Science; and Richard Lyon drove up from North Carolina--without stopping--to become the Dean of the College. And I recall John Boettiger, David Matz, and Kenneth Rosenthal were among the first to be hired of the ninety faculty for the first phase enrollment.
By July 1968 Hampshire started to break ground for three buildings--the library, Patterson Hall, and a students' dormitory. With little more than two years until the students arrive, a few people were afraid the buildings would not be ready. About that time the Trustees decided to repair an old house built in 1770, for a family to live in. The carpenters were hired, but the tenant decided the carpenters didn't know how to repair an old house. Our Vice President asked me how to make the tenant behave herself, and my answer was to decide how much the trustees wanted to pay for repairing the house, and let the tenant hire her own carpenters. The Trustees followed my idea.
In 1971 the Hampshire officials began to think about building another cluster of living quarters and offices--Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott. Emily Dickinson was also about to be built. Then the rains came down where Enfield was to be built and there was a lake. And the lake was not in any hurry to leave. A small dam was made and pumps didn't help. An engineer said to me, "You have been living here all your life. How can we get the water out of here?" I told him to use a bulldozer and clean out a ditch and the water will flow out. We have not had a lake since. The soil is like plastic clay, and as the ditch fills up with earth, water stays there. Twenty-five years ago where Prescott now stands with the woods around it, there was a swamp land, wet enough to use boots all year long to walk over it. By making a ditch by the tennis courts, that land seems dry and firm. The original plan was to continue the road by the tennis courts through the woods and connect it with the Greenwich roadway.
[This group Division III project researched and compiled an enormous amount of material on the Holyoke Range. It remains the primary source for a wide range of information on this adjacent natural resource area.]
During January and Spring, 1974, a group of twenty students and two faculty members at Hampshire College participated in an interdisciplinary study of the Holyoke Range in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts. The project was a part of Hampshire's ongoing Environmental Quality Program...
The primary goal of this study was to produce a unified document discussing the natural, cultural and land use history of the Holyoke Range; the main ecological characteristics of the Range, along with a look at man's current uses and their affects; and finally an analysis of various plans and recommendations for future land uses...(p.iv)
The Connecticut River flows south from headwaters on the Canadian border. It separates Vermont from New Hampshire, meanders through Massachusetts and Connecticut, and empties finally into Long Island Sound. The river passes mills and factories, forests and farms. Its flow provides electricity for four states, and carries the silts which replenish the fields along its banks. The Connecticut also carries waste and pollution most of its length, which it deposits in a wide flood plain around Essex, Connecticut.
Hadley, Massachusetts is a town on the Connecticut. It is settled some 90 miles from the sea, at the base of a group of small mountains: the Holyoke Range. Mt Norwottuck, the highest peak, rises 1,000 feet above the river. While surrounding land is rolling, the Range is jagged and rock bound. It appears to grow out of nothing, and stands out as a landmark from miles around. The land on the Range is divided among five towns: Hadley, South Hadley, Amherst, Granby, and Belchertown. The history of the Range is very much involved with the history of these towns. (p.5)
The Holyoke Range exists today because it is capped by a hard, erosion resistant basalt sheet commonly known as trap-rock. The basalt is a member of a series of lava flows two hundred million years old, blasted out from the depths of the earth in volcanoes that extended from the Deerfield area (twenty miles north of the Range) south to New Haven. The nearly continuous set of ridges from the Deerfield Range to East Rock outside of New Haven remind us of this turbulent era.
Geology is perhaps the most significant natural process affecting the Holyoke Range. The formation of the Range and its current features can be directly linked with geological events of global importance, such as continental drift (plate tectonics), the formation of the entire Appalachian Mountain chain, and most recently the intercontinental glaciers. The specific rock forming and deforming events, while only local in occurence, are representative of universal geological processes. The Range is especially unique from the geologist's standpoint because the results of so many of these processes are exposed and readily accessible.
Even more important, the geology has determined the topography and soil development features of the Range and can thus be shown to control the development of forest communities, surface and ground-water conditions, and ultimately how man is affected by and makes use of the land. (p.19)
The main topographic features of the Study Area are shown in the Base Map...This map emphasizes that the Range area consists both of the steep ridge and extensive areas of less abrupt slopes and foothills...
The steep cliffs and talus slipes on the north are due to the continuous fracturing of the Basalt ridge cap. This breakage, due primarily to freezing and thawing of water within the rock, occurs perpendicularly to the dip of the rocks, thus causing the north slope to be the steeper. Columnar jointing is exhibited at many places along these cliffs. The notches, or "cracks" between the peaks are along old fault zones, where the rocks have been fractured and eroded away faster than at other locales. Tinker Hill and Little Tinker are the cones of ancient volcanoes, now covered over with glacial till. The hill east of Dry Brook is caused by a "dike". The smaller, oval-shaped hills between the roads and the main ridge are drumlins, deep accumulations of glacial till.
The most striking valley feature in the area is the Dry Brook Gorge, which must have been created by a river much more substantial than the present brook. One mysterious topographic feature is the complex ridge-valley system throughout Granby, most striking on an aerial photograph. We have yet to reach a convincing explanation for them.
Thus the topography of the range as it appears today is the by-product of the continuously dynamic conflict between the mountain forming and mountain eroding processes. (p.37)
The Holyoke Range is unique from a vegetational standpoint because it has both north and south facing slopes. Its position is ecotonal; in other words, it is in a broad transitional zone where two or more plant communities may be found...The two major forest communities found on the Range are an Oak-Hickory (south facing slope) and a Hemlock-Northern hardwoods (north facing slope.)
Generally speaking, the range has four principle environments, each with its own vegetational community. Factors other than slope which affect the vegetation are temperature, water, wind and soil. The north slope is cooler, moister, steeper, and has thinner soils. The Hemlock-Northern hardwoods forest and environment on this slope is typical of forests farther north. The south slope is warmer, dryer, and less steep. The Oak-Hickory forest here is more typical of regions south of here. Near the base of the Range is a third community, the Oak-Chestnut disclimax forest, which is typical of most of this area. The term disclimax refers to a "climax community which is maintained by continuous human activity of a specific nature" (Eyre, 1968). The fourth community is located on the exposed, wind-swept ridge and is a small tree-shrub community. Some species of lichens found here are commonly found in the Alpine flora of the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. In addition, some exposed trap-rock ridges on the south slope have grasses (Andropogon) similar to prairie communities... (p.65)