Bartlett Hall

Title

Bartlett Hall

Subject

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Description

Preservation of UMass buildings has been granted a place of importance lately within the campus community. The reaction to the demolition of the trolley station illustrates this renewed interest in the preservation of campus landscapes. The trolley’s destruction, which the administration claims was due to miscommunication, made the front page of the Collegian. Even so, more than a few famous or historic buildings on the university’s campus are slated for demolition, including Bartlett Hall, which was completed in 1959.

Built on the site of the old Drill Hall, Bartlett was the first building on campus to use modernist design on campus. The simple façade does not interfere with the decorative aspects of the blue and clear windows in the wing occupied by the Gender Studies Department. Brick was chosen for the other edifices so that the building looked like it belonged in its surroundings. Admittedly, Bartlett Hall was poorly constructed. Currently, the structure needs added braces just to remain standing. The building’s layout has also been described as convoluted. That being said, Bartlett, complete with its obvious and not insignificant flaws, is evidence of a period of rapid expansion for the school. In the twenty years between 1947 and 1968, UMass experienced a building boom: the number of buildings on campus doubled from 49 buildings in 1947 to 99 in 1968. Bartlett Hall was part of this rapid expansion. Because the building has something to tell us about the university’s history, it should not be overlooked, despite its poor construction.

The demolition of this building, while perhaps necessary, will also destroy significant and important histories of the University of Massachussetts campus. Bartlett was not only the first building on campus to be built in a modernist style, but it was built by the famous architectural firm Shepley & Bulfinch. To destroy it is a shame, and without the physical building the architecture of campus will suffer. The poor construction tells a significantly history, too. It tells the history of a University which, feeling the pressure of rising enrollments after the second World War, threw up buildings which where quickly and often poorly constructed. This history, when viewed through the lens of construction and demolition, highlights the need for a thorough and comprehensive expansion plan.

The destruction of Bartlett Hall will, without a doubt change the landscape of UMass. From a purely architectural perspective, UMass is loosing what is a very unique and historically significant building and a great example of modernist architecture. From a historical perspective there are more options for the future. Bartlett stands, with some support beams, as physical evidence of a history that played out without regard for the future. Yet its destruction need not prevent us from telling that history.

Creator

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Source

UMass Special Collections and University Archives

Publisher

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Date

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Contributor

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Rights

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Relation

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Format

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Language

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Type

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Identifier

RG150-0003849, RG150-0003850, RG150-0003210, RG150-0003846, RG150-0003854

Coverage

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Original Format

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Files

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Date Added
August 29, 2012
Collection
Central Campus
Item Type
Still Image
Citation
“Bartlett Hall,” Lost UMass, accessed September 22, 2017, http://lostumass.omeka.net/items/show/4.