Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
College History



Emerson Dining Hall

Emerson and Larcom Halls were both designed by Ripley & Russell and built in 1908. Emerson Dining Hall appeared in Good Housekeeping Magazine as one of the most beautiful dining halls in the U.S. Although the Dimple was graded at the time of construction, plans for a reflecting pool were ultimately rejected.

Originally Emerson had an attractive open terrace used for outdoor teas, from which spectators could watch plays performed in the Dimple. The terrace was roofed over and transformed into a glassed-in porch in1923-24, to accommodate an increased student enrollment. An addition was built to connect Emerson with Everett Hall in 1926.

The upstairs rooms originally accommodated dining hall and Domestic Department staff, including a suite for Miss Edith Lincoln, the Director of the department. Before the rooms were converted to student residences in 1971, they had been used for faculty offices for some years. In 1950, the Faculty Dining Room was added in the back. In 1984, an electric carillon was placed in Emerson, with a gift from Madeleine Clark Wallace, class of 1934.

Emerson Dining Hall is paneled with nine foot high oak wainscoting; it contains four large fireplaces, two at each end. Besides the serving rooms and the kitchen, living space was provided for the Director of the Domestic Department and some of her assistants. These upstairs rooms are now used as a student residence.

In 1926, when J. Edgar Park became President, students and faculty still sat together in an assigned seating arrangement "for 21 meals a week, and enjoyed it! Here were formed many life-long friendships." By 1934, students and faculty sat separately except for dinner four nights a week. The system of student waitresses was instituted during World War II, when many domestic staff obtained jobs in war-related industries.

When Everett Hall was built in 1926, it was situated so that Emerson's kitchen served Everett dining hall (now Everett Heights). When Emerson opened, the serving rooms had warming ovens and tea, coffee, and chocolate dispensers. The dish-washing was done through a "modern live-steam machine." Cereals were cooked overnight in "great cauldrons."

In 1950, the Faculty Dining Room was added, the kitchen and bakery enlarged, and basement rooms finished for food preparation. This addition was designed by Howard L. Rich. Resident women faculty took three meals each day here, and also came together in the lounge for conversation and relaxation.The Faculty Dining Room was renovated in 1981, under the direction of architect Mark Mitchell, when the President's Dining Rooms were created.

It was named for Rev. Alfred Emerson who was a trustee from 1872 to 1893 and treasurer from 1880 to 1891.

The Rev. Alfred's wife, Martha Vose Emerson was principal from 1840 to 1842. One of the Emerson's daughters, Frances Vose Emerson W1872 (1855-1950), taught literature and history from 1881 to 1886, and was a Trustee from 1922 to 1941 when she was voted Trustee Emerita. Another Emerson daughter, Annie Austin Emerson W1871, taught mathematics and English branches in 1873 and 1875-76. The Dining Hall built in 1908 was named in the family's honor.

Sara Crum was Coordinator of Campus Events from 1971 to 1987. Mrs. Crum was honored at her retirement by having a small meeting room off the Faculty Dining Room, formerly a coat closet, named in her honor as Crum's Cloakroom.

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