Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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@ElizaBTweetin: May 8, 1873: Trustees' Meeting

Posted on May 7, 2014

Wheaton Seminary Boarding House

Wheaton Seminary Boarding House

Eliza Wheaton’s laconic diary entries seldom grant more than a glimpse of the back story.  She mentions a visit with a favorite (and favored) Trustee and his wife, the Rev. Alfred and Martha Vose Emerson, and that the Trustees’ Meeting was held in her Drawing Room, but what was the subject of their conversations?  The key appears in the minutes of the previous meeting of April 15. On that day Mrs. Wheaton wrote to the Trustees, “Understanding that the matter of Erecting a new boarding house in place of the old one is now being agitated by the Board I here state that in the event of your deciding on such a step you may rely on me to furnish twelve ($12,000) thousand dollars.”  She threw in the Jackson Lots as an incentive, as described in our previous entry. The Trustees voted to “very thankfully accept the proposal of Mrs. Wheaton so generously tendered in aid of better boarding facilities for the Seminary, & that the question of enlargement be specially referred for further consideration.”

Only three weeks later, the Board met again, to appoint the Revs. Emerson and Blake as a committee “to take into consideration the enlargement of the boarding house, to prepare plans & estimates & report at a future meeting.”  At their July 2 meeting, the Board resolved that “steps be immediately taken to enlarge the accommodations in this Seminary as the emergencies of the institution & progress of Education demand.”  Further details are lacking, other than $3289 spent over the next 18 months on repairs and new boarding house furnishings.

Several factors probably influenced further action. The ongoing economic downturn of the 1870s may have led the Trustees to determine that replacing the boarding house was not necessary. While a few young men attended classes to prepare for admission to college during this period, it probably became clear that Wheaton would not attract large numbers of men requiring a complete reorganization of living facilities.  Or perhaps Principal Caroline Metcalf was sufficiently pleased with the new furnishings, and stopped complaining!

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