Emerson Dining Hall

Emerson and Larcom Halls were both designed by Ripley & Russell and built in 1908. Emerson was named for Rev. Alfred Emerson who was a trustee from 1872 to 1893 and treasurer from 1880 to 1891.

Paneled with nine-foot-high oak wainscoting and containing four large fireplaces, two at each end, Emerson Dining Hall appeared in Good Housekeeping as one of the most beautiful dining halls in the US. The serving rooms had warming ovens and tea, coffee and chocolate dispensers. The dishwashing was done through a “modern live-steam machine.” Cereals were cooked overnight in “great cauldrons.” Although the Dimple was graded at the time of construction, plans for a reflecting pool were ultimately rejected.

Originally, Emerson had an attractive open terrace used for outdoor teas, from which spectators could watch plays performed in the Dimple. The terrace was roofed over and transformed into a glassed-in porch in 1923-24 to accommodate increased enrollment.

When Everett Hall was built in 1926, it was situated so that Emerson’s kitchen served Everett dining hall (now Everett Heights), and an addition was built to connect the two.

When J. Edgar Park became president, students and faculty still sat together in an assigned seating arrangement “for 21 meals a week, and enjoyed it! Here were formed many life-long friendships.” By 1934, students and faculty sat separately except for dinner four nights a week. The system of student waitresses was instituted during World War II, when many domestic staff members obtained jobs in war-related industries.

In 1950, the faculty dining room was added, the kitchen and bakery enlarged and basement rooms finished for food preparation. This addition was designed by Howard L. Rich. Resident women faculty took three meals each day here, and also came together in the lounge for conversation and relaxation. The faculty dining room was renovated in 1981 under the direction of architect, Mark Mitchell. The president’s dining room was also built at this time.

Emerson’s upstairs rooms originally accommodated dining hall and domestic department staff, including a suite for Miss Edith Lincoln, the director of the department. Before the rooms were converted to student residences in 1971, they had been used for faculty offices for some years. In 1984, an electric carillon was placed in Emerson, a gift from Madeleine Clark Wallace 1934.

Sara Crum was coordinator of campus events from 1971 to 1987. Mrs. Crum was honored at her retirement by having a small meeting room in the faculty dining room, formerly a coat closet, named in her honor as Crum’s Cloakroom.