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Hickory Hall (RG 125)

This picture displays the giant DNA strand structure that sat in the "Life Court" inside Springfield College's Hickory Hall. Hickory Hall was originally known as Bemis Hall;

Hickory Hall

In 1974 the final item to be funded by the Springfield College 7.3 million dollar Capital Campaign was Bemis Hall, located adjacent to Schoo Hall, now the Schoo-Bemis Science Center. Capital Campaign funds were used to match a $300,000 donation made by Mrs. William C. Bemis, Dorothy Bemis. Mrs. Bemis gave the money in memory of her husband, president of Fiberloid Co. of Springfield and in honor of her sons. The total cost was around $600,000.

The new building was to be used as a life sciences building. It was designed by Alfred Casella of Agawam and Ley Construction Co. of Enfield, Ct. was the general contractor. Construction began in April, 1974 and was opened to full use in April of 1975. President Wilbert Locklin commented on the unique circular structure, “We’ve made a concerted effort to make this facility as innovative and flexible as possible.” Some of these innovative features included, moveable walls in lab areas, “dustless” marker boards, an interior ramp allowing handicapped access, faculty offices designed to accommodate seminar groups, and laboratories designed for specific areas of interest such as microscopy, physiology, plant biology, microbiology and genetics. Bemis Hall Biology Complex was dedicated on May 7, 1975. Art Linkletter was the quest speaker and Mrs. Bemis and family members were among the quests.

Walking into the new science building, which was dedicated to life, was a central area deemed the “Hall of Life” or “Life Court.” It was surrounded by a circular ramp that leads from the first to second floors and was handicap accessible. In the Hall of Life was a dramatic 18-foot poured concrete sculpture-fountain that represented the life-defining DNA molecule. The pool at the fountain’s base displayed the astrological emblems of male and female, the shield of Mars overlaying the mirror of Venus. Display space for educational exhibits covered the walls around the ramp. The Life Court was covered with a translucent dome to allow natural light to illuminate the court.

Under the leadership of President Flynn, “Leadership for the 21st Century: the $40 million campaign for Springfield College was launched in the spring of 2005. It is through this campaign that the money was raised for a complete renovation of Bemis Hall. The new design focused on creating technology enhanced classrooms, with the 17,000 sq. ft. building containing an 80 seat semi-circular lecture hall, seven classrooms, the office of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Professional Studies and the Academic Success Center. The newly renovated Hall was dedicated on September 27, 2007 along with the Schoo-Bemis Science Center renovated at the same time. The Bemis name, it was decided should go with the Science laboratories and the science focus that were moved to the new state-of-the-art science center. Interestingly enough, Hickory Hall is actually a place holder name, being the name of the street that used to pass through the center of campus.

Note: for more information on Schoo Hall, now Schoo-Bemis Science Center, see RG 140 – Schoo-Bemis Science Center Records.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection documents the Hickory Hall from its construction and original name of the William C. Bemis Hall, to its 2006-2007 renovations and change in name to Hickory Hall. Included in the collection are copies of floor plans, including draft blueprints from the renovations done in 2006-2007 renovations; newspaper articles and Springfield College news releases from its construction and opening; funding and planning materials: various materials from the dedication held in 1975, including programs, news releases, schedules, invitation lists, seating arrangements from the dinner, and an audio tape and pictures from the ceremonies; programs and a DVD (actually contained in the RG140 Schoo-Bemis Science Center Records) from the joint dedication of Hickory Hall and the Schoo-Bemis Science Center held in 2007 for renovations and renaming of the buildings; and there are also interior and exterior pictures of the building. Of particular interest are the interior photographs which show how the interior of the building looked and was used before the renovations of 2007. Information on the funding, initial construction, and early use of Hickory hall, then Bemis Hall, is also of great interest. Most of these materials are actually located in the Arts and Sciences Professional Studies Records on the Biology Department and faculty member Joel Cohen Papers collection.