The site where Sawyer Library now stands has also been home to two chapter houses of Sigma Phi Fraternity. After the first Sig house on the site burned down in 1893, a second house with a unique pedigree was constructed for the fraternity. Although it survived the abolishment of fraternities to serve the campus in new ways, Van Rensselaer House, as the Sig house was known, was demolished in 1973. The leveling of this building caused a serious controversy on campus, as many objected to both the destruction of Van Rensselaer House and the design of the new library set to take its place. It had been previously determined that the Van Rensselaer site, with its location at one of the largest concentrations of academic buildings on campus, would be the most appropriate site for the new library. Sawyer Library opened in 1975 and became a popular academic and social resource for the student body.
By Jamie Margalotti (Williams class of 2000)