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Weiser Hall (RG 143)

This is a photograph of the front and side view of the Walter Rupert Weiser Infirmary at Springfield College, taken from the southwest, c. 1931. The Springfield College Triangle is on the top of the front wall.

Weiser Hall

In 1920, Clifton A. Crocker, a member of the Executive Board of both Springfield College and Hampden Hospital presented the need for an infirmary on campus. At this time, Hampden Hospital, located on the corner of State and Thompson Streets in Springfield, had closed its doors. Through the efforts of Crocker and hospital administrator Walter R. Weiser, they turned its financial assets over to charitable causes. On June 3, 1920, a pledge was signed by Hampden Hospital to turnover $40,000 of these assets to the college for use towards the construction of an infirmary.

Work on the new school infirmary was scheduled to begin in the spring of 1921. It was estimated that the infirmary and its attached medical gymnastics facilities would cost around $180,000. Funding came from the greater community as well as the college community. The architect for the project was H.L. Sprague. The general contractor was Fred T. Ley.

The building was designed as a 3 stories high building, with the ground floor 3 feet below ground level. The building was 93 feet long and 44 feet wide, brick construction with granite trimmings. The rear of the building provided a 2-story high gymnasium for “medical gymnastics.” ‘Medical gymnastics’ was a forerunner of the athletic training program. The building also included hydro-therapy facilities, 4 operating rooms, and the entire third floor served as the college infirmary.

Summer school students worked to clear the building site and to raise funds for the project in 1921. Construction began in the late summer, with the laying of the cornerstone on September 27, 1922. The building opened in January 1923 as the Walter Rupert Weiser Infirmary.

Up until 1971, when the student infirmary was relocated to the renovated Electric Co. Building, the Towne Student Health Center, Weiser served its original purpose as the college’s infirmary. A local newspaper article in January 1922 reports the planned facility would “benefit the community with treatment of crippled children and those suffering after effects of infantile paralysis. Over 2,000 treated over past year with positive results.” The 1923 Yearbook said that “The building is designed for the reconstruction of re-education, and of post-operative cases and others who have lost their grip in physical and mental ways, and is fully equipped with the most modern apparatus for this type of work.” From 1938 the basement of Weiser housed the labs and classrooms of Dr. Peter Karpovich, the premier exercise physiologist in the U.S. at this time.

After 1971, the building was reused as home to the humanities department, housing offices, classrooms, a TV studio, and journalism. The building was saved from demolition when infirmary was moved by the intervention of Facilities Director Vin Swanberg, who did a review of the structure and said that “it should not be razed.” In 2006 the building was further renovated, improving handicapped access, updating TV studio, and added classroom facilities.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection documents Weiser Hall from its construction and original use as the college’s infirmary to its renovations and use by the Humanities departments. Included in the collection are copies of floor plans; newspaper articles both from outside newspapers and the Student on its construction and cornerstone laying in 1922; a speech, both print and VHS video, from the dedication ceremony held in 2006 to dedicate its latest renovations; a list of items in the cornerstone; and photographs of the construction, including the students and Springfield College president Dr. Laurence L. Doggett clearing the land, the cornerstone laying ceremony, and the exterior throughout the years.