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Marsh Memorial (RG 132)

A colored painting of Springfield College's Marsh Memorial Building done by Paul Andrews. The painting shows the front side of the building. There is an American flag in front of the building and several people standing in front of the entrance, talking on the sidewalk or walking on the grass. The building is surrounded by trees and the painting is probably picturing a summer view. The artist's signature is on the bottom left corner of the painting.

Marsh Memorial

When The YMCA Training School separated from The School for Christian Workers in 1890, the need for a new library arose since the material from the former library went to The School for Christian Workers.  For some time the school depended largely on the City Library, and in 1891 the new library collection began when 45 volumes from Frank H. Marshall, a graduate from the class of 1887, were donated.  In 1892, the library was housed in a small room in the Winchester Park Building, which was located on upper State Street.  In 1895 the library was temporarily placed in the school’s first gymnasium, which was located on the corner or Hickory and Alden Street.  From there, in 1896, it was moved to the new dormitory, now the Administration Building, located at 287 Hickory Street, in which three rooms were set aside for the library.  The collections grew until fifteen dormitory rooms on three floors were occupied.  In 1904, the need for a fireproof building was announced.  After discussing the topic and submitting plans to architects for several years, finally, on May 22, 1912, contracts were awarded to Oscawana Building Company of New York, which with furnishings would cost $80,000.  Edward Lippincott Tilton, who also designed the new West Gymnasium built in 1910, was the architect who designed the Marsh Memorial Building. 

On May 25, 1912 excavation of the building began. The corner stone was laid on Commencement day of 1912 (June 12th) by President Laurence Lock Doggett, and construction began on September 1, 1912. The new building was dedicated on October 18, 1913.  It was named Marsh Memorial after the late W. Marsh of Bridgeport that had left a share of his estate to the College.  A bronze tablet built over the fireplace in the news room read: “In Memory of Edward Williams Marsh of Bridgeport, Connecticut, an Upright and Public-Spirited Citizen, a friend of Christian Education, and the chief Donor of this Library.” Marsh gave $40, 600 out of the $80,000 required for erection of the library and he died just before its completion.  The new library was of Gothic design, with red brick with brownstone and terra cotta trimmings laid in red cement.  It was approximately 72 feet front by 117 feet deep, and consisted of two stories as well as a basement.  The first and main floor is reached from the front by a flight of granite steps leading to a vestibule trimmed n pink marble.  The featured speaker at the dedication of Marsh Memorial was the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft.

When the new library building was complete in 1913, a room was set apart for the beginning of a Natural History Museum. The students of 1914-1915, alumni, and friends showed so much interest, that by the end of the first year about 500 lots, covering over 1,000 specimens had been cataloged. They were arranged in the groups Anthropology, Zoology, Geology, and Botany. The most valuable contribution was the gift of eleven Babylonian terra-cotta tablets written between 2800 and 2200 B. C., nearly 5,000 years ago.

Marsh Memorial served as the College’s library until the opening of Babson Library in 1971.  After Babson Library was opened, Marsh Memorial was renovated for other uses.  A chapel was developed in the large room in Marsh which already contained stained glass windows and acted as the Libraries main stacks and study room.  Marsh is still used for religious purposes today, offering regular worship services for members of the college.  These include a Catholic Mass, celebrated each Sunday at 4:00 p.m., a Praise and Worship service, held the second Sunday of each month at 8:00 p.m., and monthly Oneg Shabbat services. The Spiritual Life Center also sponsors regular interfaith services and seasonal holiday services. Other offices the building houses are the President’s office, the Office of Academic Affairs, and the Department of Public Safety.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection documents the Marsh Memorial Building, originally built as the Springfield College Library building. Mostly the collection contains photographs of both the interior and exterior of the building. Many of the interior photographs of the building are from the time the building was used as the college library. In addition, there are many pictures of the stained glass windows that depict the early symbols of the school and the YMCA that are in what is now referred to as the Marsh Chapel room. 

There are three scrapbooks as well as other folders that focus on the groundbreaking, construction and dedication of the new Library building. The scrapbooks contain letters of invite and support for the library building and the festivities surrounding the dedication as well as photographs of the construction and official documentation. In addition, there are pen and pencil sketches by Edward Lippincott Tilton, the architect of the building. These drawings appear to be signed by the architect. There is an original sketch of the building by Vernon Howe Bailey from c. 1950. The sketch was given to Springfield College by the New York Central Railroad which honored the college in its attractive series of dining car menus. The Bailey Sketch was shown on the front cover of the menu. Finally, there is a folder of correspondence and notes on the creation of the World War I memorial plaque, in memory of Springfield College student alum who died in World War I, and the American’s Creed, both donated by the class of 1920, that hangs in the main entry way of Marsh Memorial. Most of the correspondence is between the class of 1920 and Anodion Metal Company that creates the plaques.