Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Making It Modern

Academics

Mary Lyon Hall

New Seminary Hall (Mary Lyon Hall) with Additions. Unidentified Artist. Photograph, cardboard mount. 13.5 x 20 cm. 1878-1879.New Seminary Hall (Mary Lyon Hall) with Additions. Unidentified Artist. Photograph, cardboard mount. 13.5 x 20 cm. 1878-1879.Mary Lyon Hall (originally New Seminary Hall). Walker Evans. Photograph. 17 x 23.5 cm. 1940/1941. © Copyright Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During the early days of Wheaton Female Seminary, the school was little more than an extension of the Wheaton family farm. Constructed in 1849, New Seminary Hall retained the intimate “home-like” feel of earlier buildings, but radically altered the campus’s appearance. The Wheaton family funded this considerably larger version of the original Seminary Hall, which is today located on Howard Street. It was enlarged to include a science wing (south wing), gymnasium and library (west wing), additional classrooms (east wing), grand stairway and cupola in 1878. The architect for the addition was Gridley J. F. Bryant of Boston, while the main builder was Cressey and Noyes. The design of the north wing was similar to, and may have been borrowed from, that of a seminary building in the town of Hinsdale in western Massachusetts. New Seminary Hall was renamed in 1910 for Mary Lyon, a pioneer in education for women who acted as a consultant to the Wheaton family at the founding of the seminary and established the curriculum.

-George Kunhardt, Class of 2009

Reproduction of a Stereoscope. Unidentified Artist. Wood, metal, paint. 1980s. Accompanied by Unidentified Photographers. Photograph, cardboard mount, paper backing. Both 9 x 18 cm. After 1850.New Seminary Hall (Mary Lyon Hall) with Additions. Unidentified Artist. Photograph, cardboard mount. 13.5 x 20 cm. 1878-1879.

Stereoscopy is the term for the science and technology of combining two-dimension photographs and drawings so that, when viewed through a stereoscope, the image appears three-dimensional. Stereoscopic photographs are produced in pairs, as seen in these stereoscopic images of what is now Mary Lyon Hall. Each image was taken from a slightly different angle to correspond to the angles of vision of the eyes of the viewer looking through the stereoscope, giving the illusion of depth. Paper stereographs mounted on flat cards, such as these were generally produced beginning in the mid-1850s. American doctor and author Oliver Wendell Holmes helped to popularize stereographs by inventing a hand-viewer similar to this reproduction.

Please feel free to pick up the stereoscope and look at the image of New Seminary Hall, ca. 1850, before the wings were added to the building and before it was renamed for Mary Lyon. If the image does not immediately come into focus, use the handle on the bottom of the stereoscope to slide the image back and forth until it comes into focus.

-George Kunhardt, Class of 2009

Comments are closed.