The Marshall Annex was an ever-changing fixture of the UMass campus for many years before it was eventually demolished in 2006. Originally, the building stood as a barracks building at Westover Field, an Air Force base in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The barracks were built as temporary structures for the newly established base in 1940. After World War II, however, the base no longer saw the need for the temporary barracks, and tore them down. Simultaneously, UMass was experiencing a dramatic increase in enrollment due to the influx of veterans returning home. Therefore, in 1947 one of the demolished barracks was transported to the UMass campus and reassembled on North Pleasant Street to serve as additional lab space for Marshall Hall. Much like its original purpose as an Air Force barracks, the Annex was only meant to provide temporary space for classes until permanent structures could be built. However, the make-shift Marshall Annex stood for 59 years after it was first delivered to campus. It was originally used as a lab station, and later on served as an art building; home to metal-working, wood, and art studios. The images show a view of the exterior of the Annex, and an oil painting of the interior of Marshall Annex when it was used as studio and classroom space. Pang-Chieh Hsu, an MFA student in the UMass art department finished his painting Plaster Classroom in 2002.
While many students and professors harbored an affection for the quirky, historic building, there was some resentment over the dilapidated nature of Marshall Annex. John Townsend, an art professor who worked in the building, complained that an experiment on quails once performed in the Annex left the building “smelling like a chicken coop” for ten years. The bitterness came to a head when the building’s neighbor, the Foundry Building, was destroyed in a fire in 2003. Like the Marshall Annex, the Foundry Building was used for welding and metal-work, and was also a dry, wooden structure with only local alarms and no sprinkler system. Art professors and students began to fear that a similar disaster could happen in the Marshall Annex, creating a demand for modern facilities for the Art Department. Norman Philips, a retired art professor, stated: “The Art Department was always clamoring for a new building. I think it’s obvious the Art Department got the dregs.”
Indeed, by the early 2000’s the Marshall Annex was in rough repair. The building was scheduled to be torn down in 2002 after an electrical fire, however the Art Department requested a delay in the demolition until another location could be found for the art and metal studios. Instead, the university sent a contractor to update the antique wiring. Though much of the wiring was brought up to code, wiring in some classrooms remained unmodified. Soon after, however, a new art building was finally promised to the department. This building was named the Studio Arts Building and was completed in 2008.
On September 6, 2006 the Marshall Annex was at last demolished. Ironically, though the Art Department had been advocating for a new building for years, the university tore the building down to make way for the 114.5 million dollar Integrated Sciences Building included under the same plan as the Studio Arts Building. However, just as the Air Force barracks was reborn as the Marshall Annex, the building was given new life in the Integrated Sciences Building. The contractors were able to recycle 100% of the steel from the Marshall Annex in the construction of the Integrated Sciences Building, which still stands on North Pleasant Street as a subtle homage to the old barracks and the Marshall Annex.
Hsu, Pang-Chieg, Plaster Classroom, oil on panel, 24" x 23," 2002. http://www.umassmag.com/postcards/postcardw2k3_ad.html
- Date Added
- November 30, 2012
- North Pleasant Street
- Item Type
- Still Image
- “Marshall Annex,” Lost UMass, accessed December 7, 2023, https://lostumass.omeka.net/items/show/63.