Space: The Changing Campus
Over the decades, the College’s original buildings have changed their purpose—and in some cases, their size and shape— to accommodate increasing enrollments and shifts in academic and recreational needs.
“It is my hope that there may be built up here at Westlands the most beautiful small college in America....The use of the Tudor and Elizabethan architecture and careful landscape gardening can make this campus a veritable illustration of fine art in itself.”
William Van Duzer Lawrence
The heart of the campus has always been Westlands, built as a residential home for William and Sarah Lawrence in 1917.
“The property of Mr. Lawrence’s was a very charming one, but it was very steep on the hillside. If we occupied the central area, there was nothing left of the campus to speak of. So we made that pay in organization. We placed the boiler house at the bottom of the lowest building [Bates]...that’s the most economical way of heating a building; and, in fact, you almost heat the buildings for nothing. Similarly, the dining room was directly over the boiler house; and, in cooling with steam heat and so on, they had their supply right there, you see—hot water and everything else.”
Henry Noble MacCracken
Dudley Lawrence, a son of William and Sarah Lawrence, oversaw the construction of the College's original residence halls, one named for him, and the others—Titsworth and Gilbert—for two of the original trustees. William Bates, the architect responsible for the design of Westlands, replicated this Tudor-style architecture in the residence halls. The living rooms of Titsworth and Dudley Lawrence provided elegance for the College dorms.
A gazebo was part of the Lawrence estate, built without walls or windows and positioned on a promontory to take advantage of cool summer breezes. By the 1940s, the Community House acquired four walls and served as a meeting point for various student organizations, then became a faculty office. Almost demolished in the fall of 1960 when architect Philip Johnson, designer of the “New Dorms,” suggested tearing down the structure, the Community House was saved by petitioning students and again became a cozy campus meeting place where students could warm themselves by the fire with teas and homemade baked goods.
MacCracken Hall & Library, named for Henry Noble MacCracken, first president of the Board of Trustees, was built in 1930 to serve as a residence hall. It also contained the College library, which was relocated in 1974 after the completion of the Esther Raushenbush Library . The Coffeehaus was created in the 1970s.
The Siegel Center (long called "The Pub") was originally constructed as a gardener’s cottage on the Lawrence estate, then used as an infirmary, and later as a faculty house; when the College went co-ed in 1968, it became temporary housing for men. By the 1970s, the space was remodeled and christened “The Pub” for use as an informal dining hall and as a space for student activities. During the 1980s, it was renamed “Charlie’s Place,” honoring former President DeCarlo. In 1998, the entire structure was renovated, an addition was built, and the new complex was renamed the Ruth Leff Siegel Center.