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Buildings and Grounds (RG 110)

This photograph shows a group of men working on the landscaping around the wall outside of Springfield College's Pratt Field. Most people are holding shovels and spreading the sand. The grandstand is also seen, with the high concrete fence that surrounded Pratt field along the backside of the image. Two carriages and horses are also visible on the field.

General Buildings and Grounds

Springfield College, then called the School for Christian Workers, was founded in January, 1885. Classes began in the Old Chapel of Hope Church until the original school building could be constructed directly adjacent to the Church on the corner of State and Sherman Streets in the Winchester Square section of Springfield. The area was named after Springfield’s mayor at that time, Charles A. Winchester. In 1987 Winchester Square was changed to Mason Square, after Primus Mason who originally owned the land during the mid-1800s. Primus Mason (1817-1892) was an influential African-American businessman who invested his money in real estate in Springfield. By 1888 he was one of the wealthiest citizens of the city and when he died in 1892 he left his money to found the Springfield Home for Aged Men which is now the Mason-Wright Retirement Community on Walnut Street. In March of 1886, students moved into their rooms in the new building and on April 1 of that year construction was completed. The School for Christian Workers building was officially dedicated on June 1, 1886.

On June 10, 1890 the departments of the School for Christian Workers separated into two separate schools: the School for Christian Workers and the Young Men’s Christian Association Training School (now Springfield College). Both schools continued to share the building in Winchester Square until 1896, when the Training School moved to its present location on Massasoit Lake (formerly Watershops Pond). Initially, according to the September 19th, 1890 trustee records, it was agreed that the YMCA Training School would purchase the original school building from the School for Christian Workers. On January 9, 1891, during the International YMCA Training School Trustee Meeting, that decision was rescinded because land on Alden Street became available that was more suited for the needs of the Training School. The thirty acres of land were purchased from two prominent Springfield families, the McKnight Brothers, looking to settle an estate. Soon after, the School purchased the adjoining land from William R. Purple which added another 450 feet to the school’s waterfront. In 1894, the first building on the new land, Judd Gymnasia was constructed and in 1896 the first dormitory. In 1896 the transfer of the International YMCA Training School to the new campus was complete.

In 1897 the School for Christian Workers became the Bible Normal College and moved to Hartford, Connecticut to share the resources of the Hartford Seminary. The original School for Christian Workers building has significant historic value as it is where the game of basketball was invented by James Naismith and the site of the first game in 1891. In 1965 the building was torn down and the land paved to create a parking lot. Christian Workers building has significant historic value as it is where the game of basketball was invented by James Naismith and the site of the first game in 1891.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Springfield College General Building and Grounds Collection contains documents and materials that show the development and the history of the present Springfield College campus from its development in 1891 to the revitalization of the campus during the early 2000s. Nearly all types of documents are represented, including news articles, printed manuscripts and brochures, correspondence, memos, blueprints, meeting minutes, notes, reports, poster, video, and many photographs.

There are documents that speak to the general history of the campus, including information on acreage and the date buildings were built and land was added to the campus. This includes a book that contains copies of official deeds or titles of all campus property owned before 1930. There are also many campus reports and documents produced for/by various campus planning committees. The vast majority of these materials are planning reports from 1995-1997 and the committee meeting materials, including the official meeting minutes and agendas, from 1959 to 1971. In addition to these, there is a bound book containing the meeting minutes from the building committee from 1894 through 1897 that covers the construction of Judd Gymnasium and Administration Building and two large sketches of the campus plans, among many others, created in 1926 by the Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architectural firm along with E.C. & G.C. Gardner Architects.

In addition, there is information on miscellaneous campus structures and buildings not represented in the individual building collections and the college’s athletic fields. This includes materials on the World War I Student Army Training Corps (SATC) barracks built in 1918, newspaper articles and photographs on the Lakeside Village and Trailer Park Village on campus after World War II, the covered and raised walkway built in 1945 when the campus was used as a US Naval Hospital, and photographs and some memos on the Dana Fine Arts Center. Most of the Athletic fields materials focus on three of the main fields that have existed on the Springfield College Campus: Pratt Field, Blake Field, and Benedum/Stagg Field. Besides many photographs, materials of note include news articles and photographs of the burning of the Pratt Field Grandstand in 1959

Photographs make a large part of the collection (see Series 5: Photographic Materials). These include many photographs of students and faculty doing grading and landscaping, helping to put in building foundations, and constructing sidewalks. There are also many aerial photographs taken from the early 20th century into the 21st century. They are taken from all directions and varying heights. In addition there are folders of photographs of trees, flowers and other natural features around campus, signs, triangles, flag posts, lights, and photographs taken during the winter, including some specific to Christmas. There are also many general shots of the campus. These tend to be images that include multiple buildings or are of the campus in general. Many are taken with students or faculty. These, unlike photographic materials within Marketing and Communications, Student Activities or other collections of events and organizations, tend to be general and follow no theme.