Architects/Builders: 4H volunteers
Bowditch Lodge is a one story ranch-style building with a side gable roof, which was constructed in 1937 as a meeting place for the Massachusetts State College’s very active 4H club community. The building has a projecting front gable ell and a deep covered porch on its main, southeast elevation. The main entry is sheltered within the porch. The building is six bays wide and six bays deep, with a fieldstone exterior chimney on the building’s south end. Bowditch Lodge is currently clad in synthetic siding and has modern replacement windows.
Bowditch and Farley Lodges were designed and built by volunteers from the 4H community. Both these buildings originally had interiors that were designed in the New England summer cottage tradition, with the wood framing intentionally left open and exposed on the inner side of the exterior walls. At an unknown later date, the exposed wood framing was covered over with interior wallboard.
Mid-20th century photographs of the Bowditch Lodge on file at Special Collections and Archives, W.E.B Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst show that the building originally had board and batten wood siding, rounded arches at the front of the deep porch, and a fieldstone chimney at what is now its southwest end. Bowditch Lodge is an example of regional rustic vernacular architecture of the early-to-mid 20th century, with an emphasis on unpretentious appearance and functional design.
Historic photographs indicate that Bowditch Lodge and Farley Lodge were very similar in appearance, but with essentially reversed designs, with the placement of the projecting front gable ell and adjoining deep covered porch being reversed like mirror images. The two Lodges are not reverse-identical designs, however. The prime differences are that each Lodge has its chimney in its west end, and the windows in the projecting ells are of a different size and configuration.
Bowditch Lodge is a part of the UMASS childcare complex located north of Alumni Stadium on the west side of Stadium Drive. The site is fairly flat and accessed by a curved bituminous concrete entry drive leads from a parking area on the east side of the site. Vegetation on the site consists mostly of lawn with deciduous and evergreen trees. To the south, west, and north of the site are dense woods.
The construction of two 4H lodges on the campus within a mere four years (1933-1937) during the economic hardships of the Great Depression is a testament to the depth of commitment of the 4H community in Massachusetts during the 1930s, particularly when one considers that 4H volunteers provided the design and much of the labor and materials that made construction of these buildings possible. The two lodges (Bowditch Lodge and Farley Lodge) were constructed as private facilities on State-owned land at the campus.
The 4H Movement is historically associated with the Extension Service of the US Department of Agriculture and land-grant colleges and universities, such as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, now the University of Massachusetts. The 4H Movement fosters agricultural and scientific education, particularly through youth groups. Bowditch and Farley Lodges are integral to the history of the Extension Service and agricultural programs at the University of Massachusetts. According to UMass alumna Elaine Barker, Bowditch and Farley Lodges also played a role in the University’s early involvement with the Peace Corps. The lodges were used in 1962 to house volunteers who were among the early recruits to the Peace Corps shortly after U.S. President John F. Kennedy set up the Corps as an organization.
Bowditch and Farley Lodges were originally located where Thompson Hall (built 1967) now stands. Bowditch Lodge was relocated to its current site in 1967, while Farley Lodge is thought to have been moved in about 1962. Special Collections and Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst, has a photograph of Bowditch Lodge being loaded onto a flatbed truck in preparation for its move. The smokestacks of the University Power Plant can be seen directly behind the lifted building in this photograph.
Bowditch Lodge and Farley Lodge are presently located outside the core of the historic campus and are not shown on historic campus maps or plans in their current location because they were moved in the 1960s. Historic photographs of the buildings on their original location, however, show the buildings shortly after their completion with evergreen and deciduous trees over mown lawn with dense woods to the north, south, and west in the area where Thompson Hall now stands. Access to Farley Lodge is shown as a residential-scale stepping stone path. The addition of a new building, Grass Roots Daycare, to the complex obstructed views of the historic buildings from the adjacent road and resulted in the removal of some trees. Change in use to the childcare complex resulted in the addition of new pedestrian and vehicular pavement, extensive chain link fence, and children’s play equipment that is not consistent with the historic appearance of the complex.
Bowditch Lodge was named for Nathaniel I. Bowditch, who served as a Trustee of the College from 1896 to 1945.