Architects: Louis Warren Ross
Greenough House is an approximately 37,000 square foot student residence hall on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts. The building is one of nine structures that comprise the Central Residential Area. All nine buildings were designed and constructed between 1940 and 1963, and sited according to a Beaux-Arts formal plan.
Seven of these buildings (Butterfield, Brooks, Van Meter, Greenough, Chadbourne, Baker, and New Africa) were uniformly designed in Georgian Revival style. Wheeler and Brett, which are both sited at the bottom of the hill and constructed last, are less ornate structures and have subtle Art-Deco details. All buildings continue to serve as dormitories in 2008.
The main planning axis of the Central Residential Area is perpendicular to the ridgeline of Clark Hill and extends northeast to southwest. The axis is defined by the center of Van Meter and Baker Houses, with the remaining dormitories sited to the north and south. The bilateral symmetry and duplication of building footprints and appearance only deviates with the location of Butterfield House and the design of Brett House. The spatial relationship of the planning axis is visually reinforced by the central block and cupola of Van Meter House. The steep grade of the overall site was graded to create narrow terraces between the individual structures.
Following Butterfield House, Greenough was the second structure to be completed in the Central Residential Area in 1946. The Greenough site was the first to define the sequence and symmetry of the terraces to transform the Clark Hill landscape. Only one year separates the completion of Greenough from its mirror structure, Chadbourne House. The two structures are remarkably uniform in their Georgian Revival Style and share the same façade composition and refinement of details
The rectangular building is 3 ½ stories tall with a basement level exposed by change in grade at the west elevation. The structure is generally 19 bays wide by 3 bays deep. One central cross gable distinguishes the central 5 bays, which project substantially from the main building volume and visually divides the façade into three blocks. The roof eaves of the long elevations are accentuated by a wood dental cornice with returns at the gable ends.
Greenough House has a common-bond brick veneer with a molded brick projection to define the basement floor level. Decorative brickwork includes the use of quoins at north and south and to define the projection of the central cross gable. Brick banding also occurs at the floor levels. The façade includes a window pattern of primarily single-hung sash. The muntin patterns progress from the basement level 4/8 to the first floor 12/12, to the second floor 8/12, and finally 8/8 for both the third floor dormers at the mansard roof. The north and south elevations are distinguished by a large 16/16 window at the central bay to illuminate the inter-floor stair landings. This bay also divides the gable-end chimney blocks. Circular radial pane windows with keystones occur at the fourth floor level and first floor stair landing. A similar offset window pattern also occurs to accommodate the interior staircases at the cross gable on the east elevation. Building entrances are regularly located at the central bays of each elevation and feature decorative wood doorcases with paneled thresholds. Exterior granite stairs with wrought-iron railings occur at the east elevation.
The building site is located to the north of Clark Hill Road and to the west of Chancellor’s Way on a steep, terraced site. The building defines the northeast edge of a courtyard to the west. To the east, the building is bordered by a bituminous concrete vehicular drive and parking area with granite curb and bituminous concrete sidewalk. Vegetation along the east side of the building between the foundation of the building and the drive includes deciduous and evergreen trees, deciduous and evergreen shrubs, and mown lawn. Concrete steps with a railing provide access to the building from the sidewalk. Wooden benches are located at the southeast corner of the building. Along the west side of the building, a concrete retaining wall with railing provides a level terrace for the building. Bituminous concrete pedestrian walks and lawn are shaded by deciduous and evergreen trees in the courtyard to the west of the building.
The Clark Hill development grew to be known as the Central Residential Area. The first building of this complex was Butterfield House which was constructed in 1940 to the design of architect Louis Warren Ross, who was a member of the College’s class of 1917. Ross remains the most prolific architect of the campus and was responsible for the design of more than twenty structures, including nearly all the dormitories constructed between 1935 and 1963. This body of work established the Georgian Revival style as a dominant tradition for the residential quadrangles of the campus. However, Ross’s later work for the school also includes the 1956 Student Union, which was designed in a more contemporary modern style.
The Central Residential Area was developed between 1940 and 1959 as a men’s dormitory complex. Buildings in this area included Butterfield House (1940), Greenough House (1946), Chadbourne House (1947), Mills House (New Africa House) (1948), Brooks House (1949), Baker House (1952), Van Meter House (1957), and Wheeler House (1958). The buildings were laid-out in a Beaux-arts style plan with a central axis of symmetry and a distinctive hierarchy of spaces.
Greenough House and Chadbourne House were constructed as a complex of two men’s dormitories to the north of Clark Hill Road at the intersection with President’s Hill Road (now Chancellor’s Way) in 1946 and 1947. A c.1948-49 campus map shows the two buildings set in a wooded area accessed by a winding pedestrian walk adjacent to Clark Hill Road (extant). The area surrounding the buildings is no longer as densely forested as the c.1948-49 campus map implies. Historic images of the two buildings show upright evergreen shrubs framing the entrances along the eastern façade (extant, now mature at Greenough House; no longer extant at Chadbourne House).
The integrated design of Greenough House and the other structures of the hillside Central Residential Area is in the tradition of ambitious campus expansion planning of the inter-war and postwar era. In general, the Central Residential Area complex retains a great deal of its landscape integrity, modified by the addition of parking along Infirmary Way, to the east and west of Butterfield House, along the east of Chancellor’s Way, and to the east of Van Meter House. The Y-shaped intersection formed by Chancellor’s Way and Clark Hill Road was removed by 1955 and rerouted to a spur off of Chancellor’s Way located to the east of Greenough House and Chadbourne House that existed since at least 1943. Removal of this portion of Chancellor’s Way enabled the construction of Van Meter House. Many changes in vegetation patterns are the result of new construction, much of which occurred prior to 1959. The loss of foundation planting at Butterfield House, Chadbourne House, Baker House, and Wheeler House, along with the introduction of new foundation planting at Butterfield House, Greenough House, Chadbourne House, Baker House, and Van Meter House has changed vegetation immediately associated with the buildings.
Greenough House was named in 1946 for the eighth Massachusetts Agricultural College President James Carruthers Greenough. Greenough served from 1885 to 1886 and oversaw construction of the Old Chapel, South College and West Experiment Station.