1923

Madeleine Clark Wallace Library

Wheaton’s library began in a room in the Boarding House, was moved to Sweet Hall in 1869, moved again to a specially designed room in Mary Lyon Hall in 1879 and to the Chapel basement in 1918. Ralph Adams Cram designed this new T-shaped building in 1923.

The library’s cornerstone was laid in June of 1922. Constructed of brick and Indiana limestone, the portico was designed with columns, a “Juliet” gallery above the central door and doors on each side specifically for use in the classical plays offered by the senior classes of the 1920s.

Reference was centered on the main floor. The book collection was arranged according to “the alcove system,” with study tables and lamps placed in the alcoves. The top floor was empty but, by 1929, stacks were added there to accommodate the growing collection.

The lobby and marble staircase carried Cram’s formal Georgian design inside the library. During renovations in 1999, the circulation desk moved to the lobby.

When the building opened, the seating could accommodate nearly half the number of students in the college. The building also included a delivery room, work room, periodical room, reading room, lecture hall and gallery, seminar rooms and stacks room.

The Cole Memorial Collection and Cole Room were established in 1927. The contains works of English literature and poetry based on the personal library of Samuel Valentine Cole, poet and president of Wheaton from 1897 to 1925. Given by his widow Helen Weiand Cole and his brother William Isaac Cole, the original Cole Room is now named the Merrill Room.

The sky lit gallery room on the second floor housed a collection of oil paintings loaned to the college by Mrs. T. O. Richardson of Newport, RI. It was later named the Clark Room and used for reserve reading. Between 1980 and 1998, the room held art books and periodicals. In 1998, the art periodicals were moved and the space used for studying.

The Henry Clay Jackson wing, added to the library’s west side in 1941, was designed by Caleb Hornbostel and Richard M. Bennett of New York, the winners of the Fine Arts Center Competition, and made possible by the Paul Wilde Jackson Fund of Boston. The wing included a browsing room (now the new Cole Room), a new books area, a periodical room and stacks for bound periodicals. In 1950, specially-built exhibit cases displayed the Laila Raabe collection of early American glass (now in Watson).

In 1961, when a periodicals wing was added to the east side of the library, floors were placed across the atrium to create more stack space. Seating and stack space were doubled. In 1979, a stair tower addition to the library was designed by Mark Mitchell of Gourley, Richmond & Mitchell in Cambridge that connected to new underground book stacks that join the library to the Science Center.

The library was named for Madeleine Clark Wallace, class of 1934, on the occasion of her fiftieth reunion.