Clark Hall

Constructed: 1907

Architects: Frank Irving Cooper or Cooper and Bailey, Boston, Mass.

Design and construction

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The most significant features of this three story building are its full-height arched windows and heavy dentils under the eaves in a Renaissance Revival style. Clark Hall was designed and built with two main entrances to provide sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.

The building was originally used for science classes and research, in particular botany, and its first floor is still used for science labs. The generously proportioned windows on the second floor later led these rooms to be converted into painting studios.

Architectural Description

Clark Hall (Building #83) and Clark Hall Greenhouse (Building #84) are attached structures that were both built in 1907.

Clark Hall is a two-story brick structure with a hip roof, and a projecting central section on its east elevation. The building is nine bays wide and five bays deep. The building’s style is eclectic, combining elements of the somewhat-obscure American Round Arch Style with elements of the Georgian Revival Style.

The American Round Arch Style, also known as Rundbogenstil, is a German eclectic mid 19th century style combining Romanesque and Renaissance elements and characterized by arcaded round arches, elaborate brickwork and pilasters. It is considered a variant of the Romanesque Revival Style. Clark Hall, built in 1907, is a very late example of American Round Arch Style architecture, which was more typically found in buildings of the period 1845-1870.

The American Round Arch Style’s characteristic round arches and elaborate brickwork are dominant elements of Clark Hall’s exceptionally large second story windows. Clark Hall’s Georgian Revival elements include the stone stringcourse between the first and second stories, the brick lintels above the first story windows, and the block modillions below the roofline.

Clark Hall’s main entry is in the building’s east elevation, within a projecting three-bay wide central section. The door is framed with bands of flat and round brickwork. Just above the doorframe, supported by a pair of corbelled brick brackets, is a decorative stone lintel engraved with the name of the building. The door has 2/2 casement windows at either side. The central section’s second story contains a large rounded window that has a smaller and narrower rounded window at either side, with connected projecting brick trim above the windows. The large rounded window has three rectangular 3/1 casements in its lower half. Its rounded upper half is a transom that contains a fixed circular pane at its base, with six radiating panes of glass arrayed around it. The smaller and narrower rounded windows each consist of a 2/3 casement that is topped by a rounded single pane transom. The east elevation’s side wings each have three 2/2 casement windows on the first story. Each wing’s second story contains two rounded windows that are the same as the central section’s large rounded window, only slightly shorter and narrower.

Clark Hall’s north and south elevations are five bays wide and have the same first and second story windows as the ones the east elevation’s wings. The south elevation’s first story is largely concealed from view by the Clark Hall Greenhouse.

Clark Hall’s west elevation was not documented in September 2008. Historic photographs indicate that this rear elevation was built with a double-leaf central door, and windows that are similar to those in the north and south elevations.

Clark Hall Greenhouse is attached to Clark Hall’s south elevation. The Greenhouse has a tall east range and a slightly lower west range, which are contiguous. Both ranges have a concrete foundation, a metal frame and glass panes.

Historic photographs on file at Special Collections and Archives, W.E.B Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst include a photograph dated 1918 that shows the greenhouse once had a projecting cold frame on its south elevation. The cold frame no longer exists but its triangle-shaped concrete end walls still project from the greenhouse’s south elevation.

Landscape – Visual/Design Assessment

Clark Hall and the Clark Hall Greenhouse are located on the east side of Stockbridge Road on a flat site. The Clark Hall Greenhouse extends from the southern side of Clark Hall. Clark Hall is bordered on the east and north sides by bituminous concrete roads with bituminous concrete and granite curbs, respectively. A bituminous concrete walk leads perpendicular from Stockbridge Road to the main entrance of Clark Hall, located on the east façade. Bike racks are located on the south side of this walk. The site on the west (rear) side of the building includes bituminous concrete pedestrian paths, an additional bike rack, and stone and wooden benches. A fieldstone terrace is also located near the building. Vegetation surrounding the building consists of deciduous trees over mown lawn and low evergreen shrubs (Rhododendron). The foundation planting at the building consists of evergreen trees, high and low evergreen shrubs, and perennials. The Greenhouse is accessed by a bituminous concrete path that leads east to west perpendicular from Stockbridge Road. The site surrounding the greenhouse includes a decorative metal fence, deciduous trees over lawn, deciduous and evergreen shrubs, and groundcover. From the west side of the site there are westerly views into the campus.

Clark Hall and Clark Hall Greenhouse

These structures were named for William Smith Clark (b.1826, d.1886), third President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (1867-1879) and Professor of Botany. Clark’s stature was such that he was invited to Japan in 1876 to establish an agricultural college for the Imperial government there, and he is considered the founder of modern agriculture in Japan. Details of Clark’s work in Japan can be found in J.M. Maki’s book A Yankee in Hokkaido: the Life of William Smith Clark (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2002).

Landscape Analysis

The historic buildings along Stockbridge Road developed in two phases. The first phase included the pre-Massachusetts Agricultural College era construction of Stockbridge House in the 18th century and the early MAC era construction of Durfee Plant House (no longer extant) in 1867. The second phase of development occurred from 1906-1909 and included Wilder Hall, Clark Hall, Clark Hall Greenhouse, French Hall Greenhouse, and French Hall. In 1955 the Durfee Range was added to replace the historic 1867 Durfee Plant House. Historically, Stockbridge Street was a tree-lined street with a scale conducive to the integration of residential-style houses with small academic buildings. The loss of the once prominent street tree planting along Stockbridge Street has changed the character of the landscape associated with all of the buildings. New construction along the street and within the sites associates with the historic buildings has changed the scale of the area. New parking lots and associated vehicular access routes have also diminished the integrity of many of the building’s landscapes.

Naming of the building

Clark Hall is named for William Smith Clark, scientist, teacher, and third president of Massachusetts Agricultural College. A member of the State Board of Agriculture and the House of Representatives, Clark was instrumental in obtaining the college charter. In the mid-1870s, he took a leave of absence from Mass Aggie to travel to Japan and help found Sapporo Agricultural College, now Hokkaido University. Upon bidding his Japanese students farewell, he uttered his famous words of encouragement, “Boys be ambitious.”


  • From Three Architectural Tours: Selected Buildings on the Campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, 2000)
  • For additional information, consult the University Archives (RG 36/101).
  • See also the papers of William Smith Clark, Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst
c/clark_hall.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/03 12:47 by
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