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Woods Hall (RG 144)

A photographic print of a sketch of the proposed design and floor plans for the partial demolition and renovation of Springfield College dining and social hall, Woods Hall.

Woods Hall

A gift of Eleanor S. Woods who recognized the need for greater social opportunities for the students of the Training School, Woods Hall was erected on May 23, 1904 as a social and dining hall on campus. Woods, a member of the Merriam family (Webster’s dictionary) donated $18,000 for the project. On September 28, 1904 the dedication of Woods Hall took place in which Mrs. Eleanor S. Woods gave her address: “come in by twos, sometimes being not too bashful to borrow now and then from Smith’s or Mount Holyoke’s pretty garden of girls, though there is many a fair one in our own Springfield.” The central feature of Woods Hall was a dining room which could accommodate 125 or more guests. The first floor of the building also contained a parlor while the second floor was designated for dorm rooms.

During the First World War, changes were made to Woods Hall to accommodate the unit of the Students’ Army Training Course organized at the College. A two-story addition consisting of a kitchen and a social room for the Student Association was built by Fred T. Ley & Co at a cost of $40,166.49. The U.S. Government reimbursed the college $8,598.53, approximately one-third the cost of the kitchen. The new Social Room in Woods Hall was dedicated by Dr. Laurence L. Doggett on April 30, 1919. In 1939, improvements were made to Woods Hall at a cost of $2,171. The Woods Hall Lobby and Cafeteria Dining Hall were redecorated, rebuilt, and refurnished. The second floor was also entirely remodeled, removing the store and post office and making a large classroom out of this area to accommodate 200 students. During the summer of 1951 Woods Hall was completely revamped to accommodate the incoming freshman women, Springfield College’s first co-ed class. The faculty dining room, lobby, conference room and main dining hall were covered with bright tile flooring and an acoustic ceiling was built as well as modern recessed lighting.

On May 24, 1958 the cornerstone of the Beveridge Center was laid. The Center, which was built between Abbey/Appleton Halls and Woods Hall, replaced the former campus student union, sometimes referred to as Doggett’s House or Gulick’s House (both men lived there), and was opened for full operation on January 5, 1959. In 1961, Woods Hall underwent its largest renovation, a complete facelift to provide more seating capacity, a faculty dining room and a conference room on the first floor and a large multi-purpose room on the second floor. The renovation, which cost close to $300,000 was part of a two-phase renovation program on campus which completely altered the original structure of the building. The renovated Woods Hall looked nothing like the original Woods Hall built in 1904 as the entire front of the building was completely reconstructed.

The completion of a new dining hall, Cheney Hall, in 1968 facilitated further renovations to the former dining facility. In 1969 an enclosed ramp from the Grumman Room in Woods Hall to the Chaplain’s office area in Beveridge Center was added. Renovations were made to the post office, and the new bookstore and air conditioning was installed in the building. A snack bar and lounge were also included in the renovation. The Beveridge Center and Woods Hall served as the “living room” of the campus providing a variety of uses and services to the campus community.

In 2008, Woods Hall was demolished to make way for the construction of the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union. The Beveridge Center, located adjacent to Woods Hall, was renovated and joined to the new campus union which was dedicated on February 4, 2010.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection documents Woods Hall which was built in 1904 and remained, with many renovations, in use through 2009. Mostly the collection contains photographs of the interior and exterior of the building. The photographs of the exterior of the building are both before and after the major renovations that occurred in 1960-61. There are also a fair amount of pictures of the kitchen and dining rooms, in particular the dining rooms as they existed in 1940s and early 1950s.

In addition to the photographs, there are dedication materials from the original opening of the building in 1904, including the original handwritten speech by Mrs. Eleanor S. Woods; Floor and framing plans; a contract written in 1919 for the use of Woods Hall by the Student Young Men’s Christian Association for the year running from September 1, 1919 to June 15, 1920 (on the back of this document is another document outlining the constitution for the Student’s Insurance Alliance of Springfield College); and a group of materials from the Woods Hall and Beveridge Center Renovations that took place in 1969, including contracts, planning documents, meeting minutes, and correspondence.