Table of Contents
Design and construction
Designed to house offices, laboratories and classrooms, museum space, and an auditorium for the Departments of Entomology and Zoology, Fernald Hall was dedicated on November 11, 1910. Built in a relatively conventional, symmetrical Georgian Revival style, the building was sited slightly north of the old entomological laboratory. Constructed of brick with stone trimmings, it features a steel frame with cement floors and slate roof, heavily overhanging bracketed eaves, and vertical strips of brick at the corners and windows. It originally held a zoological museum of 12,000 specimens, with space on the main floor for sixteen cases; a geological museum with six cases; and an insect collection of over 100,000 specimens.
Fernald Hall and Wilder Hall underwent extensive renovation in 1979.
Fernald Hall is a two-story Classical Revival brick structure with a hip roof, broad overhanging eaves and an H-shape plan. The building is 11 bays wide and nine bays deep, with a five-bay central section that is flanked by three-bay projecting end sections. Fernald Hall has a slate roof, stone and wood trim and a granite foundation. The trim includes string courses and tapered brackets under the eaves.
The main entry is in the southwest elevation at the top of a short stairway. The entrance features a double-leaf door that has 2/2 panes in each leaf’s upper half and two narrow panels in its lower half. The doorway has a transom that is comprised of four 2/2 fixed windows. The southwest elevation’s central section has two windows on either side of the main entry and five evenly spaced windows on the second story. Each of the projecting end sections has three windows on its first and second stories. All of these windows are comprised of a 2/2 window with a 2/2 transom. The southwest elevation’s basement has shorter 2/2 windows, which are vertically aligned with the first and second story windows.
The nine-bay wide southeast elevation’s windows match the southwest elevation’s windows, except for the southeast elevation’s easternmost bay, where the first story has two small windows instead of a matching 2/2 window with a 2/2 transom, and the basement window has been blocked with exhaust equipment.
Landscape – Visual/Design Assessment
Fernald Hall is located on the western side of Thatcher Way to the south of Franklin Dining Hall. To the west, the building is bordered by a substantial foundation planting of a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs in a mulched bed. Beyond is a large bituminous concrete parking area. A bituminous concrete vehicular access drive and smaller parking area are located to the south of the building. To the east of the building a bituminous concrete service court bordered by a screen planting of mature evergreen trees separates the building from Thatcher Way. To the north is a second bituminous concrete service area and access drive.
This structure was one of a number of research and instructional buildings that were planned under the leadership of Massachusetts Agricultural College President Henry Hill Goodell, who sought to improve the College’s facilities. Fernald Hall served as an entomology and zoology building and was named for Charles H. Fernald, who was an internationally known entomologist, head of the MAC science department and acting President of the College. More information about Charles Fernald may be found in Frank Prentice Rand’s Yesterdays at Massachusetts State College, 1863-1933 (Amherst: The Associate Alumni Massachusetts State College, 1933).
Historic photographs of Fernald Hall (1910) show a dense foundation planting along the building’s western side (replaced) and vines growing on the façade of the building at the corners (no longer extant). The approach to the building consisted of two diagonal pedestrian walks from Stockbridge Road through mown lawn that converged at the main entrance on the western façade (no longer extant). This area has been replaced by an expansion of the bituminous concrete parking lot to the west in recent years. Historically, an area of cultivated land was located to the east of the building (no longer extant). This area is now the location of a service court, mature evergreen tree planting, and Thatcher Way.
Naming of the Building
In March, 1921, the Entomology and Zoology Building was named in honor of Charles Henry Fernald, whose varied roles at Massachusetts Agricultural College included Professor of Zoology, chief entomologist of the Hatch Experiment Station, first Director of the Graduate School, and one-time acting President of the College.
- Norton, Paul F., /Amherst: A Guide to Its Architecture/. Amherst Historical Society, 1975.
- From the Massachusetts Historical Commission, UMass Amherst Building Survey reports (2009).
- For additional information, consult the University Archives (RG 36/101).