Architects: Louis Warren Ross
Paige Laboratory is an approximately 30,000 square-foot academic building on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts. The building is not located along a major thoroughfare, but rather joins a complex of interior campus structures.
The three-story building has a rectangular plan and a symmetrical composition. The building block is 13 bays wide and 5 bays deep. The basement level is accessible at rear grade.
The main building entrance is reached by a series of granite steps, with an additional entrance to the west. Both entrances have wood-paneled doors with divided light transoms.
The main entrance is located at the three central bays, which project from the façade and are defined by 5 multi-story wood pilasters topped with metopes. Double doors are framed within a recessed casework with decorative header. Although currently painted red, historic photography suggests an original off-white finish similar to other exterior millwork. The doors are flanked by large cylindrical glass light fixtures and windows with flat brick arches and limestone keys. Within the three central bays, the second-floor rectangular windows have brickwork arches and decorative stone sills.
The building exterior is finished with machine-made brick laid in a common-bond pattern from the foundation slab to the parapet. The first floor is defined by a continuous limestone beltcourse and 3/2 and 9/6 factory sash with limestone sills. The second and third floors include similar window types and rectangular stone sills. All elevations include slightly recessed window bays at 2nd and third floors. The basement level is defined by a limestone water table and a parge-coat stucco treatment. Many windows and adjacent walls have been modified for exterior-mounted air-conditioning units or metal louvers. Some windows at the rear elevation have been in-filled. Additionally, metal louvers within brick walls located beneath window sills may or may not be original to design.
The building has a built-up flat roof with no exterior downspouts. A chimney exhaust extends from the rear exterior wall between two windows. Historic photography suggests the original brick parapet has been reconstructed at a lower height and omitting original recessed brick bays and possibly a stone coping. A wood cornice defines the base of the brick parapet.
Following the early 20th-century construction of Stockbridge Hall, the northeastern quadrant of the campus was devoted to the departments of engineering and the physical sciences. The laboratory complex, including Gunness Laboratory (1949), Marston Hall (1950), Paige Laboratory (1950), the Animal Isolation Laboratory (1953), and Thayer Animal Disease Laboratory (1957) were developed between 1949 and 1957 in the former agricultural fields to the north of Draper Hall. The structure was originally sited adjacent to zone of military housing and a cottage, no longer extant. cc At the time of construction, the area immediately to the north of Draper Hall was occupied by the North Parking Area (extant, reduced in size). Access to the complex was provided by a road that ran north from Olmsted Road along the west side of Paige Laboratory, turning east between Marston Hall and Gunness Laboratory. This road remains intact. Since the completion of the complex, Governor’s Drive was constructed to the north and new buildings have been constructed between the laboratory complex and the core of the campus. New buildings near the historic laboratories include Knowles Engineering Building (1991) to the south and Marcus Hall (1966) to the east. Together with Marston Hall, these buildings defined a new quadrangle to the south of the laboratory complex.
Historic photographs of Paige Laboratory show bituminous concrete walks leading to the building’s entrance with deciduous trees over mown lawn and minimal foundation planting at the building’s central entrance. The bituminous concrete walk remains along the southern side of the building and new shrubs have replaced the historic planting along the foundation at the southern side of the building. A 1959 campus map shows the area to the south of Paige Laboratory as open field, which is now occupied by an expansive bituminous concrete parking lot between Paige Laboratory and Stockbridge Hall.
Paige Laboratory is the second building named in honor of James B. Paige (class of 1882), a Professor of Veterinary Science at MAC from 1889 to 1922. In 1925, the building now known as Munson Hall was named after Paige, however the Trustees voted in June 1952 to rename that building after the retiring Director of the Extension Service Willard Munson.