Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Staff Council

What’s in a name?

Posted on August 15, 2012

Buildings get their names in various ways. I know from searching the Wheaton Web pages that many buildings are named after Professors, Presidents, etc. This is not the case with the Doll's house.

When I started working here and I was told the names of the different buildings, I thought the Doll's house was a cute name for a small building. It reminded me of my childhood in the 1960’s, Yes, I am that old. I had a doll house made of some type of metal. They didn’t make them out of cardboard and plastic back then. A neighbor came over one day to visit with her three year old son; he sat on my cute little doll house and squashed it flatter than a thin crust pizza. I think of that every time I hear the words “Doll's house.”

Wondering how it got that name I did some research. The Doll's house was built in 1904 and it was the original power plant. It had only two floors and the second floor was the college laundry. In 1925 it was renovated and a third floor added. At that time it was called Tower Hall and housed 30 female students.

John Edgar Park became college president in 1926. I think he had a sense of humor. I read that he took joy in naming things. When he toured the campus and he walked through the Doll's house he thought that its rooms were so small that students would have to be the size of dolls to enjoy living in them. By 1931 it was referred to as the Doll's house. Park Hall was named after him. He wrote, “My name is restful in a traffic mad world and should serve an administration building as well.” Not as cute as the Doll's house statement but still interesting.

A little walk through the history of Wheaton and you find out all sorts of things. Stay tuned for my next history excursion into the buildings on campus.

—Alice Santos

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