Mary Lyon Hall

Mary Lyon Hall, known at the time as the new Seminary Hall and serving as Wheaton’s main classroom building, was constructed in 1849 to replace “The Sem.” The building’s Greek Revival style with Gothic and Italianate details seems to have been the design of carpenter, James D. Hathaway.

Mary Lyon Hall was enlarged in 1878 to include a science wing (south wing), gymnasium and library (west wing), additional classrooms (east wing), grand stairway and cupola. The architect of the addition was Gridley J. F. Bryant of Boston. The grounds were relandscaped by Percy Blake, a civil engineer.

Just prior to the completion of work on the building, a fire began in the basement. The fire was spotted by a breakfast cook and help arrived before much damage was done to the structure of the building. It is believed that the fire began twenty-four hours before the building’s construction insurance expired. The charred beams may still be seen in Mary Lyon Hall’s basement.

Originally painted tan and dark brown, the building was painted yellow and white in 1900. The fancy weathervane on the cupola was removed after a 1938 hurricane. During the summer of 1939, a greenhouse was attached to the southeast wall of Mary Lyon, and remained there until the 1940s.

In 1910, the building was named for Mary Lyon. The Woolley Room, originally the Seminary’s library, was named through a gift by alumna, Mabel Tingley Woolley, class of 1925. The faculty lounge is named for Elizabeth Stoffregen May. The Berry Room is named for Ruth S. Berry. Barbara Coleman Donnelley, class of 1963, and Thomas E. Donnelley II also donated a room in Mary Lyon Hall.