Table of Contents
East Experiment Station
Architect: Emory A. Ellsworth, Holyoke, Mass.
Elegant arched windows and robust brownstone lintels are the defining features of the East Experiment Station. Built as a pair with the West Experiment Station, the building is characteristic of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, with its broad round arches, deep-set windows, and cavernous door openings set in a rusticated stone construction. Also of interest are the stained glass windows and playfully sculpted downspouts.
Originally intended to house facilities for the “microscopic investigation of parasites,” East Experiment Station contained a fully-equipped photographic studio with an ingenious overhead railroad system for transporting large plant specimens to the camera. In the 1890s, the Station had an attached shed, glass house, and ornate Victorian greenhouse that were later removed. The building has served as home for the Center for the Book and the University of Massachusetts Press.
The East Experiment Station is a 2½-story brick Romanesque Revival structure with a hip roof and an asymmetrically-placed front gable. The building has a square footprint and a one-story projecting bay on its southeast elevation. The East Experiment Station has a slate roof with ornamental flashing and finials at the roof ridge, brownstone trim, and a brick foundation. The main roof and the projecting bay’s roof have brownstone waterspouts that jut out from the corners of the building. The brownstone trim includes doorframes, window sills and lintels, a water table, a cornice, and coping on the gables. The building is ten bays wide and three bays deep.
The main entry is the southwest elevation, sheltered within a recess that is framed by a brownstone arch. The door has a large singe pane in its upper half, with a solid panel above the glass and two panels below it. The door is flanked by 4/9 sidelights and has a 3/16 transom. The woodwork in the sides of the recess and in the area below the sidelights contains bead board paneling. Three closely spaced 1/1 windows with leaded glass transoms are located to either sided of the brownstone arch. The brick lintels over these windows have brownstone trim between each lintel and at the lintel ends. The southwest elevation of the projecting bay has a single narrow 1/1 window with a leaded glass transom that matches the wider windows on this elevation’s first story. The southwest elevation’s second story contains two closely spaced 1/1 windows above the entry arch, which have three closely spaced 1/1 windows to either side. These second story windows have semi-circular single-pane transoms and a continuous band of brownstone arches that wrap around the main and side elevations. The gable peak contains three closely spaced 1/1 windows with brownstone lintels and side trim.
The northwest elevation’s first story has a large three-part window, with a central transom, that is framed by a very large brownstone Syrian arch at the northern end of this elevation. The arch rises directly from the brownstone water table. Two evenly spaced 1/1 windows with leaded glass transoms are located to the west of the large arch. These windows match the southwest first story windows in terms of size, appearance, brick lintels and brownstone trim. The second story contains six windows that match the southwest elevation’s second story windows. Here they are grouped in two sets of three. The gable peak at the northern end of this elevation contains three small square one-pane windows.
The southeast elevation’s first story has a one-story projecting bay at this elevation’s south end. The projecting bay has three 1/1 windows with leaded glass transoms and a continuous brownstone lintel. On the east end of this elevation is a transomed window that matches the southwest elevation’s first story windows. This window is flanked by matching but blind window frames. The second story’s windows match those of the northwest elevation, only here the set of three window arches at the east end of the elevation contain a central window that is flanked by blind arches.
Landscape – Visual/Design Assessment
East Experiment Station is located on a flat site with westward views of the main campus. The west side of the building fronts a bituminous concrete pedestrian sidewalk and North Pleasant Street, a bituminous concrete vehicular road with a granite curb. A bituminous concrete drive provides access to a bituminous concrete vehicular parking area to the east of the building. Bituminous concrete pedestrian walkways on the west side of the building provide access to the building from the road. Vegetation surrounding the building consists of deciduous trees over lawn, low deciduous and evergreen foundation planting, perennial planting, and mown lawn.
East Experiment Station
This structure was built with funds made available under the auspices of the Hatch Act of 1887. Under this Act, funding from the Federal government could be provided for the benefit of State agricultural experiment stations.
Massachusetts was a pioneer in creating (1882) a formal Agricultural Experiment Station, five years ahead of the federal government. Only New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and North Carolina preceded Massachusetts. Today there are more than 50 agricultural experiments stations at all land-grant colleges and universities in the United States and its territories.
The Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station was located on the campus of the Massachusetts Agricultural College. Its first Director was Professor Charles Goessmann who had become nationally recognized in the application of chemistry to agricultural practices.
Five years after the Massachusetts Station was created (1887) Congress passed the act that established the national system of agricultural experiment stations at land-grant colleges and universities. The Massachusetts legislature accepted this act and a federal experiment station was created at the Massachusetts Agricultural College. It became known as the Hatch Experiment Station, named after the legislator responsible for the federal act. Its first Director was M.A.C. President Henry Hill Goodell.
The Massachusetts and Hatch Experiment Stations existed together on the campus as officially separate, but cooperating, units until 1894 when the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill authorizing the College to combine the two. In 1895 the College merged them and from 1907 to the present the organization has operated under the name, Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station.
In 1889 the College built what is now known as the East Experiment Station as an administrative office for the federally sponsored station. Now 120 years old, it retains much of its original design elements inside and out. It is an excellent example of adaptive reuse, with evidence of care in preserving its historic character. It has provided offices for a number of university functions and currently houses the highly respected University of Massachusetts Press.
West Experiment Station, East Experiment Station, Draper Hall, Flint Laboratory, Stockbridge Hall, and Goessmann Laboratory were constructed between 1885 and 1922 along the north side of Olmsted Road. Although oriented in an irregular pattern today, historically, the buildings were organized along the northern portion of what used to be Olmsted Road, later Ellis Drive. Historically, Olmsted Road was a street-tree lined road that curved around the west side of the pond, connecting to North Pleasant Street at both its northern and southern ends. Olmsted Road was removed between 1959 and 1973.
To the southwest of the complex were Flint Road (now Campus Center Way) and a ravine that ran to the south of what is now Campus Center Way, draining the Campus Pond. The area to the southeast of the complex was historically open lawn leading to the Campus Pond with a few scattered deciduous trees and desire-line paths. A pedestrian walk led through the open lawn, connecting Draper Hall to the intersection of the cross-campus walk and North Pleasant Street. This walk is no longer extant, obstructed by the construction of the Lincoln Campus Center. The construction of Hasbrouck Laboratory (1950) and addition (1963), Student Center (1957), and Lincoln Campus Center (1970) destroyed the visual connection between the Olmsted Road buildings and the Campus Pond.
The West Experiment Station (1885) and East Experiment Station (1889) are located at the former intersection of Olmsted Way and North Pleasant Street. Both of the buildings historically featured crescent shaped access drives (no longer extant) and landscapes consisting of deciduous trees over lawn (partially extant). A new bituminous concrete parking area was added to the east of the East Experiment Station and is first shown on a 1959 campus map. The construction of the parking area, loss of historic vegetation patterns, primarily consisting of broad, open lawn with scattered deciduous trees, loss of views of the Campus Pond, and the loss of Olmsted Road has resulted in the diminished integrity of the landscape associated with the East Experiment Station.
- Three Architectural Tours: Selected Buildings on the Campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, 2000)
- Massachusetts Historical Commission, UMass Amherst Building Survey reports (2009).
- For additional information, consult the University Archives (RG 36/101).