Archives and Special Collections
92 Snell Library
360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2351

Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids

Printable Finding Aid. Back to Browsing Version.

Collection Overview
Title:Facilities Division records
Date:1855–2006 (bulk 1955–1970)
Location Code: 33/3–4, FF6/D3–8, 11 Rolls, RS10/51, RS11/52
Reference Code:A94
Extent:14.5 cubic ft. (4 boxes, 25 flat files, 11 rolls)
Scope and Content Abstract:This collection documents the construction of various buildings on Northeastern's Boston and satellite campuses. Buildings documented in the collection include Cabot Physical Education Center, Dana Research Center, Ell Student Center, Speare Hall, Stetson Hall, and White Hall. Of special interest is a 1960s–era civil defense report and evaluation of Northeastern's ability to deal with a nuclear attack, and the provisions that it had taken to prevent panic. The collection consists mainly of correspondence between the University and the architects, contractors, and others relating to pre– and post–construction activities. Other record types include blueprints, land maps, and schematics dealing with both the overall design and construction of the buildings.
Historical Abstract:Since its founding in 1896, Northeastern University has expanded its campus from a few buildings on Huntington Avenue to a sprawling campus. After initially renting space in the Botolph Building and the Boston Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), the University built its first building, Richards Hall, in 1939, and continued to grow from there. A push towards building dormitory spaces in the 1960s helped to transform the University from a commuter college to a residential college. At the same time, the University continued to construct new academic spaces and began buying properties outside of Boston, including properties in Ashland, Woburn, Lexington, and Burlington. These land acquisitions were used to facilitate extracurricular programs, alumni events, and housing for the president of the University at Henderson House. Today the University is looking towards building both residential and academic spaces. The most recent building, West Village F, finished in 2006, meets a combination of needs by being both a dormitory and housing the African–American Institute.
Language and Scripts:Materials entirely in English.
System of Arrangement:Arranged in one alphabetical sequence.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Stevenson, J. Kenneth

  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—Administration
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—Buildings and Grounds Department
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—Office of University Development
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—Plant Maintenance Department

  • Architecture, Domestic—Designs and plans
  • Buildings—Additions—Design and construction
  • College buildings—Massachusetts—Boston
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—Buildings
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—History
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—School of Law—Building
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—Student housing
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)—Design and construction
  • Swimming pools—United States—Design and construction
  • Universities and colleges—Massachusetts—Boston

Conditions Governing Access:Records are closed for 25 years from their date of creation, unless researchers have written permission from the creating office.
Processor: Finding aid prepared by Rebecca Parmer, August 2006; updated by Hanna Clutterbuck, August 2008; updated by Abigail Cramer, November 2012.

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the construction of new facilities and renovation of existing facilities for Northeastern University's Boston and satellite campuses. The collection also documents accompanying landscaping, interior decoration, and furnishing efforts. Record types include aluminum prints, building plans, blueprints and correspondence between the University and various construction companies, including the architects Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, and Abbott. The buildings represented are the Cabot Physical Education Center, the Dana Research Center, Snell Library, the Curry Student Center (Ell Hall addition), Speare Hall, Stetson Hall, the old Boston Storage Warehouse, and White Hall.

The collection also represents facilities that Northeastern owns and operates outside of Boston such as Henderson House, the Warren Center in Ashland, MA, along with suburban campuses in Lexington and Burlington, MA. In addition to actual building blueprints, the collection contains numerous land plans of possible expansion. Of special interest is a 1960s civil defense report and evaluation of Northeastern's ability to deal with a nuclear attack and the plans and provisions taken to prevent panic. The majority of this information is from John Hancock Insurance Company, but there is also correspondence between the University administration and the Civil Defense Committee for colleges across the United States.

Negatives in the collection, including negatives of Henderson House, the suburban campus, general land plans, the Life Sciences Building, and the Warren Center, were removed and can be found in the University Photography collection.

Historical Note

Northeastern's first home was the Boylston Street building of the Boston YMCA. After that building burned in 1910, classes continued in spaces provided by the City of Boston, Boston University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Various buildings on Ashburton Place, Huntington and Massachusetts Avenues were also briefly occupied by the University. Construction of the new main building of the YMCA on Huntington Avenue began in 1911 and was completed in 1913, providing a central space for Northeastern. The Vocational Building, later renamed the Botolph Building and now Cullinane Hall, was built in 1911 and housed the Automobile School and Electrical School.

After World War I, the University required more space and expanded first with rented space in the Gainsborough Building, and then onto the second floor of the Huntington Building, constructed in 1924 with spaces specifically for the University. The University made its first purchase of land in 1929, buying a little over an acre from the Boston and Providence Railroad Corporation. In 1936, Northeastern added a wing to the Botolph Building for a print shop, a maintenance shop, and classroom and laboratory space for the Biology Department. Three years later, under pressure to meet the requirements of the accrediting body for the College of Engineering, Northeastern built Richards Hall as the first building in its developing campus plan. At that time, Richards was called the West Building, while the Botolph Building and the Northeastern space in the YMCA building were respectively referred to as the South Building and East Building.

Further expansion of the physical plant followed with the addition of the “New Building” in 1941. This building was later named Science Hall and housed the Department of Chemical Engineering, an expanded Department of Biology, student spaces, and a lecture hall. By the mid–1940s, the original campus plan had been greatly revised. Plans to have all the buildings on campus connected by above ground passages had been discarded in favor of a subterranean tunnel system connecting the main campus buildings. The gymnasium and auditorium had originally been conceived as a combined building, but a more careful study of the available land made it clear that this was impossible. Instead, the Student Center Building and Alumni Auditorium (later named Blackman Auditorium) were built as separate structures over the next few years and dedicated in 1947.

In 1951, Northeastern made more land purchases, bringing the University's presence on Huntington Avenue to over 12 acres. The 1950s saw the addition of the first dormitory in 1950, the Forsyth Building in 1951, the Library Building (now Dodge Hall) in 1952, the Godfrey Lowell Cabot Physical Education Center in 1954, and Hayden Hall in 1956. The Library was rededicated in 1959 as the Robert Gray Dodge Library in honor of Mr. Dodge who gave the first lecture at the University's School of Law in 1897, and the Alumni Auditorium / Student Center Building was re–dedicated as the Carl Stephens Ell Student Center in 1959 in honor of the second president. The Graduate Center was also dedicated in 1959, marking the end of over two decades of extensive development that established a permanent city campus with room for future expansion.

By the beginning of the 1960s, the University was transforming from a mainly commuter college to a residential university. Additional land purchases brought the University's presence to 40 acres along Huntington Avenue with 11 academic buildings and four residential dormitories located in the greater Back Bay area. The Diamond Anniversary Development Program, begun in 1961, emphasized the University's physical development, tying academic achievement with the physical plant. Among other ideas, the Program proposed that, over the next 12 years, Northeastern build 12 new buildings, including residence housing and a new sports complex. The interest in residence housing came from Northeastern's desire to attract students from around the country rather than rely on local commuter students to make up the majority of the student body. To make this change, the University needed more permanent dormitory space, and by 1966 five new dormitories were built: Light Hall, Smith Hall, White Hall, Melvin Hall, and Stetson Hall (East and West). Stetson, originally conceived as a men's dormitory in 1963 (Contract 1), was transformed into the first women's dormitory in 1966 (Contract 2) as need arose for more women's housing. The University established five new colleges in the 1960s, further emphasizing the need for the Diamond Anniversary Development Program's plan of expansion. To be able to provide classroom space and administrative and academic support for these new colleges, the University had to expand further. The first building dedicated under the Diamond Anniversary Development Program was the Mugar Life Science Building in 1963 which held administrative offices, as well as spaces for the Biology, Psychology, Chemical Engineering, and Natural Science departments. It also housed the newly acquired College of Pharmacy.

To be sure programs like those at Boston–Bouvé were supported and to meet student demand for new programs, Northeastern also commissioned plans for new gymnasium facilities to include, among other things, a state–of–the–art pool. By June of 1966, the new swimming facility was in the preliminary planning stages and the Barletta Natatorium was dedicated on December 6, 1969. The athletic facilities available now included a swimming pool, weight rooms, and handball courts in addition to the existing Cabot Gymnasium. To support the new programs of the re–opened School of Law and the College of Criminal Justice, the University built the Asa S. Knowles Center in 1969 and Volpe Hall in 1972. The University also purchased buildings further along Huntington and the Fenway to house the College of Education.

During the early 1960s, the University also expanded beyond Boston with branch campuses and conference facilities. In 1961, Ernest Henderson purchased the Pierce Mansion for Northeastern to use as a conference center. It was renamed the Henderson House and used by President Ryder as a residence. The following year, Northeastern opened another branch campus in Burlington, Massachusetts, on a 15 acre site that had been a Nike missile installation. Additional conference facilities were added in 1963 with the opening of the Warren Center in Ashland, Massachusetts.

On the Boston campus, Northeastern constructed the Charles A. Dana Research Center in part with funds from a $900,000 National Science Foundation grant. Dedicated in 1967, the $2.1 million Center housed graduate classrooms, a research center and laboratories for the physics and electrical engineering departments. Soon, government contracted research was being done and a lasting relationship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed.

Expansion efforts continued in the 1960s with the growth of Ell Hall. In response to student demand, the administration refocused the original building schedule and dedicated the student center in 1964.

The main building and expansion projects of the Diamond Anniversary Development Program were largely complete by the end of the 1960s. During the 1970s, only three buildings were built or purchased: the Afro–American Center was purchased in 1970, the Amelia Peabody Health Professions Center expanded into the Mugar Life Sciences Building in 1973, and Kerr Hall was built in 1975. Renovations were made to Dodge Library, but the new library building that had been planned did not develop due to financial difficulties. The last major construction project of the Development Program was the Stearns Center, completed in 1977.

Construction proceeded at a slower pace during the 1980s and 1990s in response to the needs of individual programs or University projects. The Century Fund, begun in 1980, raised funds for several building projects including Kariotis Hall, opened in 1982, and extensive renovations to the Mugar laboratories in 1983. In 1985, Snell Engineering building was completed. Many other buildings saw renovations or rededications, including Botolph (renamed as Cullinane Hall in 1985), Ruggles (renovated and renamed Ryder Hall in 1990), and the Columbus Parking Garage (completed in 1987). Another major building project was the Snell Library, completed and dedicated in 1990. Throughout this period, too, the University made a concerted effort to “green” the campus, moving away from the asphalt and cement that had largely dominated the Boston campus.

Throughout the 1990s, the University constructed the Egan Engineering / Science Research Center, the Marino Recreation Center, the Curry Student Center and Shillman Hall. Matthews Arena and the Cabot Gym saw major renovations. During the 2000s, the University built the West Village complex near Ruggles Street, which was designed to include at least four dormitories, a parking garage, two academic and administrative buildings, and the George Behrakis Health Sciences Center. The College of Computer Science was given a home in the West Village, and programs of the Bouve College of Health Sciences were housed in the Behrakis Center. The first of the dormitories, provisionally called West Village A, opened for student residence in 1999; West Village B and C opened in 2000; the Behrakis Center and West Village E opened in 2002; West Village G and H opened in 2004; and the last dormitory, West Village F, which also houses the African–American Institute, opened in 2006. The University also bought and renovated the South End Auto Supply building on Columbus Avenue for dormitory space, and completed numerous smaller projects such as the Northeastern Veterans' Memorial, dedicated in the fall of 2006.

1911Botolph Building built
1930Northeastern buys Botolph Building
1939Richards Hall dedication
1957Northeastern buys Old Boston Storage Warehouse
1961Northeastern buys Henderson House
1964Speare Hall, Ell Hall dedications
1966Stetson Hall, Light Hall, Smith Hall, White Hall, and Melvin Hall dedications
1967Dana Research Center, Warren Center dedications
1968Dockser Hall dedication
1969Hurtig Hall dedication
1978Willis Residence Hall dedication
1982Kariotis Hall dedication
1984Snell Engineering Building dedication
1990Northeastern completes and dedicates Snell Library
1991Northeastern renovates Blackman Auditorium, constructs new entrance for Matthews Arena
1992Warren Center converts from solely recreation to conference center space
1993Northeastern renovates and re–opens Dodge Hall, the University bookstore, and the student center food court
1996Krentzman Quadrangle dedication
1999West Village A opens
2000West Village B and C open
2002West Village E and the George Behrakis Health Sciences Center open
2004West Village G and H open
2006West Village F and the new African–American Institute open
2006Veterans' Memorial dedication

Feldscher, Karen. Northeastern University, 1989–1996: The Curry Years, Smaller But Better. Boston: Northeastern University, 2000.

Frederick, Antoinette. Northeastern University, An Emerging Giant: 1959–1975. Boston: Northeastern University, 1982.

Frederick, Antoinette. Northeastern University, Coming of Age: The Ryder Years, 1975–1989. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1995.

Marston, Everett C. Origin and Development of Northeastern University, 1898–1960. Boston: Northeastern University, 1961.

Rhoads, Linda S. Tradition and Innovation: Reflections on Northeastern University's First Century. Boston: Northeastern University Publications, 1998.

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FF6/D7 81 – 83 St. Stephen Street Plans (Light Hall)1963
FF6/D8106 – 122 St. Stephen Street1972
FF6/D8153 Hemenway Plans1971
4Aluminum Prints1961–1964
FF6/D8Antenna Schemes1958
RollArmy Housing Plans (Army Specialized Training Program Housing): 125, 129, 131 Hemenway1943
FF6/D4Artists' Renderingsn.d., 1945–1966
FF6/D4Assorted Campus Prints1956
3 Behrakis Health Sciences Center 2000
1Proposed Addition1966
Boston Storage Warehouse
1Alterations and Conversion Study (2 folders)1959
1, FF6/D8Preliminary Studies1959, 1960
1Pressn.d., 1958, 1959
1Report: Recommendations by Prof. Charles C. Baird1959
1Requirements and Estimatesn.d., 1959
RollBoston Opera House Blueprints1908
FF6/D3Boston State Highway Takingsn.d.
FF6/D5Boston Water Power Company Land Plans1855
1, FF6/D5Botolph Building Plans1953, 1954
Cabot Physical Education Center
1Cost Estimate1959
4, FF6/D6Plans and Negatives1956–1966
1Plumbing Specificationsn.d., 1967
1Pool and Handball Facilities Specifications (3 folders)1966
RollCampus Expansion Plans1956–1964
4Chemistry Building Plans and Schematics1966, 1967
Civil Defense1961–1963
1Civil Defense Committee (4 folders)n.d., 1961–1963
1Family Fallout Shelter Construction Manual1961
1Information Bulletins: Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency1961, 1962
1John Hancock Defense Planning Symposium: Remarks1961
1John Hancock Employee Preparedness Pamphletn.d.
1“The Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy” Newsletter Article1962
FF6/D4Cushing Hall Layoutn.d.
Dana Research Center
1Bids1965, 1966
1Budget (3 folders)n.d., 1955, 1965–1967
1Building and Program Development1961–1966
1, FF6/D5Dana Memorial Portrait1966, 1967
FF6/D5Landscape Plans1966
1National Science Foundation Grant (4 folders)1962–1967
1Plans and Drawings1963–1965
1Specifications (2 folders)1965
1 Egan Engineering/Science Research Center 1996
1E.L. Lebaron Schematics of Manholes and Grates1947–1966
Ell Student Center
1Building Committeen.d., 1962, 1963
1Building Program1962
1Furnishingsn.d., 1964, 1965
1HHFA (2 folders)1962–1965
1Specifications (3 folders) 1963, 1964
4Ell Student Center and Women's Dorm: Negatives1963, 1964
FF6/D8Engineering Building by YMCA 1934
RollExpansion Plans: Railroads1955–1964
Forsyth Building
RollLand Around Forsyth n.d.
RollUtility and Land Plansn.d.
FF6/D4Forsyth Dental Building: Medical and Dental School Plans1917
4Grant of Easements1965
FF6/D8Hemenway Building Plansn.d.
FF6/D5Henderson Boathouse Blueprints1988
RollHenderson House Blueprints1925
FF6/D5 Ion Physics Building 1970
4Index Plans (3 folders)1961–1964
4Land Grants1958–1963
FF6/D3Land Maps1940–1995
FF6/D6Land Plans around Quad1950, 1952
1Landscaping Services1966
RollLaw School Building Plans: Bipartite Building1966–1968
Marine Science Institute
FF6/D8 Plansn.d.
FF6/D5US Military Nahant Defense Area Plans1942, 1954, 1973, 1983
3 Marino Recreation Center 1996
FF6/D8 Melvin Hall 1965
1Newsletter: NU Recycling News2006
FF6/D6NU Propertiesn.d.
FF6/D7NU Satellite Properties1962–1966
Physical Plant Maintenance and Construction Department
1Bomb Threat Information1970?
1National Fire Protection Association: Safety Brochure1975
1Stevenson, J. Kenneth1953–1965
1Union Agreements1968, 1970
FF6/D6Property Maps: Burlington and Lexington, MAn.d.
Proposed Campus Expansion
1Architect's Renderingn.d.
FF6/D3Proposed Computer Center1967
FF6/D6Proposed New Labs: Plans 1941
FF6/D4President's House 1964
FF6/D8Quad and Surrounding Area1952
FF6/D6Robinson Hall: College of Nursing Blueprints1964
FF6/D7 St. Stephen Street Purchase1966
4School of Law Plans, Elevation, Section: Negatives 1960
FF6/D8Small Land Plans / Lots n.d.
FF6/D7 Smith Hall Plans1943
Speare Hall
1Architect's Analyses and Estimates1962, 1963
1Bids1962, 1963
1Budget and Project Summaries1963–1965
1Housing and Home Financial Agency (2 folders)1962–1966
1Mortgage and Deed of Trust1962
FF6/D3Plans1958, 1959
1Project Revisions1964, 1965
1, 2Specifications (5 folders)1962–1964
Stetson Hall
Contract One
2Bids1964, 1965
FF6/D7 Building Plans1960
2Construction and Budget Estimates1964
2Construction Contracts1965
2Contractor: Jackson Construction Company1965–1967
2Consultants: Wood and Tower, Inc.1964, 1965
2Equipment and Furnishings Agreements1965, 1966
2HHFA / HUD (4 folders)1964–1967
2Preparatory Materialsn.d., 1960–1965
2Specifications (2 folders)1965
2Time Table1964, 1965
Contract Two
RollAddition to Men's Dorm1964–1968
3Bids1965, 1966
3Completion Agreement – Elevators1966
3Construction Schedule1966
3Plans and Drawings1965–1966
3Preparatory Materials1963–1965
3Project Revisions1964–1967
3Specifications for Addition 1966
FF6/D6Land Plan1962
3Publicityn.d., 1965, 1967
FF6/D6Student Center1964
FF6/D6Student Parking Lot n.d.
FF6/D4Tufts Medical and Dental School Plans1967–1972
FF6/D8Warren Center Plans1966
White Hall
3Bids and Contracts1961, 1962
3Cost Estimates1961
3Roosevelt Apartment Acquisitions1960
3Specifications (3 folders)n.d., 1960, 1961
FF6/D6Lot Outline of YMCA Schematic1943
FF6/D6Pipes and Drainage Diagram ca.1960
FF6/D3Room Designations1952