History of Stetson now online

Maybe you’re like me, walking in and out of Stetson Hall hundreds of times without ever noticing for whom the building was named.  But with my newfound interest in Williams history, I was amused and intrigued to discover that Francis Lynde Stetson, Class of 1867, was J.P. Morgan’s lawyer, among many other attributes of success, and became a principle benefactor of William College in the early 20th century.  Alfred Clark Chapin, Class of 1869, also made a name for himself in law, business, politics, and benefactions to his alma mater.  These gentlemen would come together and create a library fit for the “gentleman’s college” Williams had become, to appropriate the terminology of Prof. Frederick Rudolph’s bicentennial essay, “Williams College 1793-1993: Three Eras, Three Cultures.”  The Stetson and Chapin libraries shared a building and defined an era, whose story is recounted in the “History 02” page now posted to this site. 

Coming attractions

1)  The College has posted the latest architectural renderings of the New Sawyer Library here.

2)  I have finally written my history of the Stetson Library and after tinkering with the illustrations, will post it on this site by June 30th, as “History 02.”

3)  The North and South Academic Buildings, the first campus construction in the overall Stetson-Sawyer project, are on course for completion this summer, and recent pictures are available here.

Off-site shelving facility to open

While the North and South Academic Buildings approach completion by the end of the summer in a highly visible position at the center of the Williams campus, the first library construction in the whole Stetson-Sawyer project is far from sight, but nearly finished and soon to be operational.  On a fine May morning I joined a group touring the high-density shelving facility the Williams College Library has built on Route 7 North, opposite the Cozy Corner.  I took away two strong impressions:  One, that the building suggests how pure functionality can be aesthetically appealing.  And the other, fascination at seeing two book environments in which I’ve spent my life — libraries and bookstores — melding to find a new model for an old need.  The facility reminded me of nothing so much as the country’s largest book distribution warehouse, which I visited decades ago, back when computer-based stocking procedures were just being innovated.   To follow me on the tour, please click through.

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