1917 - 1979

The Observatory

When Wheaton was granted college status in 1912, the old “Cheese Box” observatory became inadequate. Designed and built in 1917 by Wheaton workmen, this new observatory is situated on the hill behind the President’s House. The location was chosen because it afforded an excellent horizon.

The building contained a classroom and transit room with a four-inch transit instrument on the first floor, and a domed room on the second floor which housed the telescope.

The telescope had a six and one half inch refractor lens, the work of Alvan Clark & Sons Corporation of Cambridge, acquired in 1913. The telescope was also provided with a stellar photometer for use in the study of variable stars.

This building ceased to be used as the observatory in 1979, when the telescopes were moved to the roof of the Science Center. It has since been used occasionally for student housing.