Helen Fairchild Smith Hall, the college’s new gymnasium and recreation building, was formally dedicated on Class Day as part of the Ivy Day celebration in 1905. The class of 1905 planted their class ivy alongside the building. The main part of the new building was a gymnasium with a stage large enough for college plays and easily adaptable for concerts. It was also used for examinations. Above this room was a running track forming a gallery around three sides. In the basement were showers and lockers, and a banquet hall with adjoining kitchen. Room was allotted for bowling alleys, which were never put in. Bowling alleys would later show up in a new student union.
A special gym course was required for all new students four days per week from November 1 to April 1 in addition to the daily outdoor exercise the students had for 45 minutes. In 1910 a white tile swimming pool was installed in the building and with it a regulation that no senior could receive a degree until she had passed a swimming test. This rule has now been taken out of the curriculum requirements starting with the class of 2015; they no longer have to pass a swimming test to graduate from Wells College.
With the opening of the new Student Union, the decision was made to remodel, The Helen Fairchild Smith gymnasium: the result was as an auditorium for college lectures and classroom for larger courses. Using the newly dedicated “Piutti Organ”, a gift from the Alumnae of Wells College was installed and Smith became a venue for student recitals and informal concerts. Also added to Fairchild Smith Hall was the college bookstore which was located first in the basement of Main and then moved to the ground floor of Macmillan and now resides in the spacious basement of Smith, where the swimming pool and dressing rooms had once been.
From Jane Marsh Dieckmann’s “Wells College: A History”. The Wells College Cardinal 1906-1907. Additional items referenced from the print collection of the Wells College Archives.
More information is available in the Wells College Archives.
Summary compiled by Nicole Di Mauro’12