Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
College History



Knapton Hall/ Science Hall

The College architects Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson designed and built this science and assembly hall in 1911. It was the first classroom building to be constructed at Wheaton since the additions made to Mary Lyon Hall in 1878.

Science Hall was constructed on the site of an apple orchard where students spent Sundays when they were not allowed to leave campus. The cornerstone-laying ceremony held for Science Hall was apparently the first such ceremony held at Wheaton.

When Science Hall opened, it contained class rooms, laboratories, and a lecture room. The basement held botany and biology laboratories. When smoking was first allowed at Wheaton, in 1932, a temporary smoking room was furnished in Science Hall, until a smoking room was established in Hebe Parlors. In 1936, $2300 worth of new equipment was added to the botany, zoology and chemistry departments. Two years later, a dark room was fitted up for Dr. Shook.

The first floor served as a chapel until Cole Memorial Chapel was built in 1917, when it was divided into recitation rooms, having been designed and built with this in view. The second floor held physics and chemistry laboratories and a lecture room with a sloping floor and a reflectoscope lantern. The third floor was used by the Art Department. In 1933 part of the basement was converted into a science library; in 1941, the science library was moved to the first floor.

A wing was added in 1941 to provide more modern laboratory space opened in 1942. It contained lecture rooms, offices, seminar rooms, and labs. It was designed by Caleb Hornbostel and Richard M. Bennett, Associated Architects, from New York, the winners of the 1938 Fine Arts Center Competition. This building remained the Science Hall until 1968, when the new Science Center was constructed. In 1971, the building was redesigned as a center for the social sciences, and renamed Knapton Hall in honor of Dr. Ernest John Knapton, Professor of History from 1931 to 1969.

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