“For what it’s worth, the New Williams has arrived. It stands at the
junction of Routes 2 and 7 in a complex of five buildings that house something less than three hundred students.”
–Peter M. Koenig (Williams Class of 1967)
The construction of the Greylock Quadrangle in 1964-1965, was a direct result of Williams College’s determination to abolish the fraternity system. To fulfill the College’s commitment to house and feed all Williams students, the Quadrangle was designed to include four dormitories (William Cullen Bryant House; Mark Hopkins House; Franklin Carter House; Washington Gladden House) and a large dining hall. The groundbreaking ceremony for the $2.7 million project, Williams’ largest construction project thus far, was administered by President John E. Sawyer, on April 9, 1964.
The Quad was designed by Benjamin Thompson of the Architects Collaborative of Cambridge. One of Thompson’s last designs before he left the firm, it combines brick bearing walls with significant amounts of tinted glass and the infamous concrete “waffle slabs.”
Within the dormitories, rooms are arranged in suites of two or four bedrooms with a common room and a pair of larger “senior singles” at each end. Each of these rooms was designed for single occupancy according to the guidelines of the Student Committee on Physical Facilities. Each house also has its own living room and common area with kitchenette.
The large central dining hall was originally petitioned into four separate sections, one for each of the houses, with lounges and a snack bar on the lower level. It was believed that eating together would bring about greater house unity, but this plan was eventually abandoned, opening the dining hall up to all Williams students. Greylock’s snack bar and lounge were also converted into classrooms and workspaces.
The Greylock complex features three memorial rooms. The dining hall’s first floor lounge was named in memory of Charles D. Makepeace (Williams Class of 1900), Williams’ Treasurer from 1935-1950. The conference room on the dining hall’s second floor was named for John P. Wilson (Williams Class of 1900), a Williams Trustee. The lounge in Mark Hopkins House was donated in memory of William Wood Skinner Jr. (Williams Class of 1946).
The population of these new Greylock buildings were residents of former fraternity houses; buildings which the College now owned and hoped to use for non-residential purposes. Despite some minor and repairable building flaws, such as hallway lights with no off switches and curtains unexpectedly shrunken by the heat of the radiators, Donald Gardner, Assistant Dean, reported that most students were happy with the new accommodations. Still, the most common criticism was a noticeable lack of communication or bonding within the individual houses. The general feeling remained that Greylock living was a success, but that it could not recreate the experience of the small-house residences.
By Jaime Margalotti (Williams Class of 2000)
Hall, Mike. “Jackson, Van Rensselaer Houses Undecided About Move to Greylock.” Williams Record. 16 December 1964.
Levien, Larry. “Greylock Finished–Cost 3 Million.” Williams Record. 20 September 1965.
“College to Dedicate Quad Sunday; Greylock Complex Houses 288.” Williams Record. 24 September 1965.
Koenig, Peter M. “Koenig ’67 Contrasts New and Old Williams” Williams Record. 1 October 1965.
Gault, Bob. “Students Report Flaws in Greylock Buildings.” Williams Record. 26 October 1965.
“Greylock Residential Houses / Williams College / Williamstown, Massachusetts.”
Architectural Record. September 1966 (reprint). Greylock Quadrangle file. Photograph Collection. Williams College Archives.