Amherst 1860 Map

Want to learn about the people and places of Amherst in 1860? Hover over an area highlighted in purple and click for more information! Most purple areas still exist today, and streets highlighted in green are part of Amherst's contemporary landscape.

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Though it may deviate from today's average town and campus relationship, early Amherst College depended very much upon the people and businesses located in town. In 1821, the money, building materials, and labor needed to establish the college was literally received from the hands of townspeople from Amherst and the surrounding area. In the years that followed, many of these same families and individuals (as well as new ones) contributed things such as time, funds, relationships, ideas, and even their own homes to the young college and its students.

Regardless of the changing social landscape, many of the buildings and landmarks that are found on this map still impact the daily life of Amherst residents and students today.

This map visualization was created from an original map of Hampshire County created by Henry Francis Walling in 1860, entitled "Map of the County of Hampshire, Massachusetts." The digitized version of this original map was accessed through the Library of Congress.

Professor Ebenezer Snell's Residence

CURRENTLY PRIVATE RESIDENCE

Photo: Google Maps.

Photo: Google Maps.

Ebenezer Snell, professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, lived in this home during his time as an Amherst College faculty member. Ebenezer was a member of the Amherst College Class of 1822 (the first class to graduate), Amherst’s first tutor, and the first Amherst graduate to become an Amherst professor. Described by Professor W.S. Tyler as being quiet, humorous, and well-liked, he loved the college dearly and spent about 55 years there, having a profound impact on its earliest years.

 The Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College. Portrait of Ebenezer Snell, n.d. The Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College. Portrait of Ebenezer Snell, n.d.

A note on Amherst’s first graduating class

Ebenezer Snell and Pindar Field (namesake of today’s Pindar Field Dinner tradition) were the only two  graduating members of the Class of 1822. Originally students at Williams College, they followed Zephaniah Swift Moore, Amherst’s first president and then-president of Williams, to Amherst in 1821 alongside a few underlclassmen to found Amherst College. During their time as students, Field and Snell shared a dormitory room in South College--this room also served as their classroom, where Moore would meet with them each day. One cannot help but wonder the sort of friendship that Snell, Field, and Moore might have had (or not had!) after embarking on such a journey together.

 

G. Baker's Residence, c.1795

CURRENTLY SCOTT HOUSE (AMHERST COLLEGE ADMINISTRATION)


Scott House (1793) |. Photograph. Accessed July 12, 2017. http://mass.historicbuildingsct.com/?p=3277.

In 1860, this building served as the home of Mr. Baker, who was related to Enos Baker, a founder of Amherst College who previously lived in the home. Before housing the Bakers, this building was owned by George Williamson and served as the Williamson Tavern. It is likely that the tavern was only in business between the years 1800 and 1806, therefore meaning that it was not a tempting influence to the men of Amherst College, which was founded in 1821.

Rev. Dr. Edward Hitchcock’s Residence

CURRENTLY AMHERST COLLEGE ADMINISTRATION

Peckham, Professor Edward Hitchcock Returning from a Journey. Oil on canvas mounted on board, 25 x 26.5 in, ca. 1838. Mead Art Museum, Amherst, MA.

Edward Hitchcock was a reverend and professor of Natural Theology and Geology at Amherst College, described by his son as “timid but hopeful.” Other than being known as an important figure throughout the town and college, Edward was famous for his many contributions to geology, as well as detailed geological surveys  and scientific reports of Massachusetts. Orra White Hitchcock, who was married to Edward, was an accomplished artist and often created scientific illustrations that her husband used in his classroom. Deeply devoted Christians, both Orra and Edward attributed their talents and scientific successes to God.

      The Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College. Portrait of Edward Hitchcock, c.a. 1854.

John Dickinson's Residence, 1790

CURRENTLY WILSON ADMISSION CENTER

Amherst College. Wilson Admissions Center. Photograph, n.d. https://www.amherst.edu/visiting.

Mr. Dickinson was a key figure in the founding of Amherst College--he once owned the land that the college sits on and donated it all so that the College on the Hill could be built! This house, which he kept for himself to live in, is situated just southwest of the original College Row and today serves as the college admission center. While a center such as this did not exist in the 19th Century, admission to the college was overseen by the professors. Want to know if you would have been admitted to Amherst College in 1841? Take the admissions quiz to find out!

Appleton Cabinet, 1855

CURRENTLY APPLETON RESIDENCE HALL

The Appleton Cabinet around 1858. Photograph. Accessed July 12, 2017. https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~polsen/nbcp/collections.html.

Built under the presidency of Edward Hitchcock, Appleton was constructed to house scientific specimens and a classroom. Unlike today, the building originally had only two stories and was not heated (good thing that has changed)! The main attractions of this cabinet were from Hitchcock’s own collection, which includes dinosaur footprints found in New England. This collection, which has since expanded, may be visited today at the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College.

Zoological Cabinet. Photograph, n.d. https://consecratedeminence.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/night-at-the-museum/.

South College, 1821

CURRENTLY SOUTH RESIDENCE HALL

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “South College dormitory at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/209.

This is Amherst College’s first building. Consisting of materials that were found in the Pioneer Valley region and donated to support the cause, South is an example of the relationship between Amherst College and the surrounding area--it was literally built by the townspeople of Amherst, Leverett, and Belchertown! Originally, this building was multi-use and contained living quarters, a library, a recitation room, and a laboratory.

The College Well, 1821

DEMOLISHED; CURRENT SITE NEAR NORTHEAST CORNER OF NORTH RESIDENCE HALL

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Amherst College well with man drinking,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 18, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/573.

The well was dug at the same time as the construction of South College, Amherst College’s first building. Other than being a gathering space for students, the well provided the college with a much-needed water source. During the college’s earliest years, a bath house also existed on campus. According to the son of President Hitchcock, “When a man wanted to take a bath, he had to go to the well and draw water of as many buckets full as he was able and willing to draw, empty it into the trough, then go and strip, and pull the string, and get a cold shower bath.” (Wilson, Douglas C., ed. Passages of Time: Narratives in the History of Amherst College, page 13.)

Johnson Chapel, 1826

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Johnson Chapel at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 27, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/242.

Though referred to as “the chapel” in Amherst’s early years, this building also contained classrooms, a library, and a museum. The chapel was built largely due to a $4,000 donation from Adam Johnson upon his death--after being assured by Samuel Fowler Dickinson that the building would be named after him, he wrote the lofty contribution into his will (much to the dismay of his immediate family members, to which he willed hardly anything).

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Interior of Johnson Chapel at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/247.

East College, 1857

DEMOLISHED; CURRENT SITE OF JAMES & STEARNS RESIDENCE HALLS

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “East College dormitory at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 11, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/582.

East College was strictly a 48-room dormitory, unlike the previously built halls that also included student housing. President William Augustus Stearns oversaw the construction of East, which was the first college building not constructed along the north-south plan of College Row. In 1883, the building was demolished due to the fact that most students were living not in college dormitories, but rather in fraternity or boarding houses in town, making East College uneconomical. Ironically, two first-year dormitories now rest upon its site.

North College, 1822

CURRENTLY NORTH RESIDENCE HALL

“Exhibitions and Blog | Scenes, Part 1 | Amherst College.” Accessed July 12, 2017. https://www.amherst.edu/library/archives/exhibitions/scenes1.

Similarly to South College, North College was originally built to fulfill several purposes; it served not only as a space for students to live, but also as a laboratory, chapel, cabinet, and lecture space.

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Room no. 12, North College dormitory at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/570.

A note on 19th Century Amherst College student housing

Students were originally responsible for heating, lighting, and furnishing their own bedrooms; however, if a student was unable to do this due to finances, he could request to borrow furniture from the college janitor to be returned at the end of the term.  And if a student was hungry whilst hanging out in his room? Too bad. Food was not allowed inside of dormitory rooms, much to the dismay of most students (but only to the annoyance  of those who sometimes snuck snacks into their rooms through the windows).

Williston Cabinet, 1857

CURRENTLY WILLISTON RESIDENCE HALL

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Williston Hall at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/588.

Originally dubbed “Alumni Hall” by Samuel Williston, whose donation made construction possible, this building initially housed the Chemistry department and society libraries. Later, it became the home of the Mather Art Collection, classrooms, and a reading room. Today, it is one of Amherst’s seven first-year dormitories.

Barrett Gymnasium, 1859

CURRENTLY BARRETT HALL

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Barrett Gymnasium at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/213.

Named after major donor Dr. Benjamin Barrett, the features of this building included offices and various athletic equipment. Dr. Edward “Doc” Hitchcock, Amherst College graduate and son of President Edward Hitchcock, founded the United States’ first Department of Hygiene and Physical Education here.

College Grove

CURRENTLY FIRST-YEAR QUADRANGLE

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “East College walkway at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/597.

Before the construction of Barrett Gymnasium, the grove was a spot for students to practice athletics and contained outdoor training equipment; students would even use the path that ran along the perimeter of the grove as a running track (today, this is roughly the path that the quadrangle roadway follows). The grove also contained a bath house, which connected to the college well via a gutter system. William Austin Dickinson, graduate of the college and brother to poet Emily, planted various trees in this area.

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Amherst College campus and grove,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/172.

Cabinet & Observatory, 1847 and 1855

CURRENTLY THE OCTAGON

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “View of the Octagon at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/580.

This building was a favorite of President Edward Hitchcock’s due to its revolutionary octogonal shape. The Octagon initially contained various specimens from college-owned collections, as well as the Geology and Astronomy departments. One specimen weighs 8 tons, once lived next to Emily Dickinson’s house, was placed outside of the Octagon by some of Hitchcock’s geology students from the Class of 1857, and can still be visited today!

President’s House, 1834

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “President's House and Morgan Library at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 11, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/224.

Although this house is still the place that Amherst College presidents call home, it is not the original President’s House--the first house was built in 1822 near the corner of the current Route 9 and South Pleasant Street. Around 1832, the first house was deemed unfit to be a living space due to health problems that it had caused to President Heman Humphrey’s family. The house was then sold to a professor (who later renovated it to a healthier standard) and, in 1834, the home that we see today was built.

College Library, 1853

CURRENTLY MORGAN HALL

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Morgan Library at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 24, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/91.

Amherst College’s first library consisted of one bookshelf in South College. Over time, the library expanded and eventually moved to this building after its 1853 construction. However, the whole story of Amherst’s literary life is not so simple--student societies procured their own book collections and the main library was actually uncomfortable and not easily accessible. Want to know more about Amherst’s early libraries? Visit our library page!

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Interior of Morgan Library at Amherst College,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/215.

Congregational Church, 1829

CURRENTLY COLLEGE HALL

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Old village church meetinghouse,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 16, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/585.

Amherst College donated the land that this church was built on, as well as a sum of money, to the builders. The building originally served as a church meeting house and space for many of the college’s events, such as Commencement and special lectures. By the time 1866 rolled around, the college had purchased the building in its entirety; College Hall has since served various functions and is a well-known landmark sitting between the college and the town.

 

Town Common

COMMON AS WE KNOW IT TODAY CIRCA 1853

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Amherst Town Common,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 19, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/486.

In 1853, William Austin Dickinson and the Ornamental Tree Society transformed a meadow into a town common that was likely humbly reminiscent of Frederick Law Olmstead’s public design convictions--Olmstead had been a guest in Dickinson’s home and even drew up plans for the landscape design of Amherst College, which were turned down by the trustees. Elements of the common’s transformation included a fountain and new trees.

First Baptist Church, 1838

CURRENTLY AMHERST COLLEGE ADMINISTRATION

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “First Baptist Church in Amherst,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 13, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/478.

Completed in 1837, this building housed the First Baptist Church of Amherst, which is now located on 434 North Pleasant Street. The church was created after ten people disassociated with the Baptist church in New Salem in 1830, passed through Northampton, and finally settled in Amherst in 1832. In 2016, the structure was renovated and  repurposed as an Amherst College administrative building.

 

Shops & Amherst House Hotel

CURRENTLY SHOPS & BANK OF AMERICA

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Amherst House on South Pleasant Street,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 19, 2017, http://digitalamherst.org/items/show/467.

Much like today, this area of town was integral to the early Amherst social scene; shops provided for various needs and wide streets allowed for carriages and pedestrians alike to mill about. Amherst House, owned by the prominent Boltwood family, was a famous landmark that occupied the corner where Bank of America now sits. Hotel rooms allowed for it to serve visitors while gathering spaces were filled to the brim with locals participating in private or public meetings.

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “View west on Main Street toward the Amherst House hotel,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/659.

A note on 19th Century Amherst industry

Amherst during this time period was characterized by various local businesses, such as woodworking shops, a photography business, various mills and tannearies, a brick-making company, a palm-leaf hat factory, and various dry goods crafters and shops.

 

Amherst Academy, 1814

DEMOLISHED; CURRENT SITE OF AMHERST CINEMA COMPLEX

“Amherst Academy and Parsons House,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 16, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/776.

Active from 1814 to 1861, Amherst Academy was a pre-college, co-educational institution founded by some of the men who also founded Amherst College. After 1821, students, alumni, and professors often taught courses at the Academy, where subjects ranged from geology and mathematics to the Classics. Some Amherst College events and lectures were open to students of the Academy, which tied the two schools together despite the age differences of their target audiences.

Phoenix Row & American House

PHOENIX ROW CURRENTLY INCLUDES SUBWAY, AMHERST BOOKS, RUSSELL'S, & PASTA E BASTA. AMERICAN HOUSE IS CURRENT SITE OF INSOMNIA COOKIES, CLAY'S, & CRAZY NOODLES.

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Phoenix Row in Amherst,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 16, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/406.

Just like today, this block was comprised of various shops and living spaces in the mid-19th Century, making it a focal point of Amherst’s social environment. Highlights of this space include the American House hotel, various stores, and the former home of dictionary-writer and Amherst College founder Noah Webster.

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Business blocks and American House Hotel in Amherst,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/646.

A note on 19th Century Amherst industry

Amherst during this time period was characterized by various local businesses, such as woodworking shops, a photography business, various mills and tanneries, a brick-making company, a palm-leaf hat factory, and various dry goods crafters and shops.

Livery Stable

DEMOLISHED; CURRENTLY SITE NEAR JUDIE'S, ANTONIO'S PIZZA, AND BOLTWOOD GARAGE/PARKING LOT

Lynn. 19th Century Historical Tidbits: Boston (Horse), March 18, 2016. http://historicaltidbits.blogspot.com/2016/03/boston-horse.html.

Livery stables were an important staple of most 19th Century towns, and Amherst was no different. Offering transportation services, these stables often catered both to those who wanted to board their horses or those who merely wanted to hire one. Wealthier Amherst College students would sometimes rent a horse for recreational riding around the area.

Mrs. Sarah Emerson’s Residence, c.1754

CURRENTLY THE STRONG HOUSE/AMHERST HISTORICAL SOCIETY

“Strong house with sycamore trees,” Digital Amherst, accessed July 12, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/744.

Constructed in 1744, Nehemiah Strong and his family originally  lived in this home. After passing through three generations of Strongs, some members of whom were wealthy and politically influential in Amherst, the house was bought by Sarah Emerson in 1853. Sarah not only lived here, but also utilized the home as a boarding house; Henry Ward Beecher boarded here during his freshman year at Amherst College, making it likely that many other Amherst students did the same during this time period. In 1916, the house became property of the Amherst Historical Society. Today, it is open to the public for tours and events.

Professor William Seymour Tyler’s Residence

DEMOLISHED; CURRENT SITE OF TYLER RESIDENCE HALL

Lovell, John L., 1825-1903, “Residence of Professor William S. Tyler in Amherst,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 14, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/170.

Once a student at Amherst College, William Seymour Tyler eventually taught Greek and Latin there. Much modern knowledge of 19th Century Amherst exists because of Tyler--in celebration of the college’s 50th anniversary, he wrote a detailed history that included data and anecdotes on those people and places that he knew and loved deeply.

      Plainfield Garden Club. Portrait of William Seymour Tyler, n.d.

Professor William Smith Clark’s Residence

DEMOLISHED; CURRENT SITE OF PLIMPTON RESIDENCE HALL

Bachelder, John B. (John Badger), 1825-1894, “Lithograph of Amherst, 1857,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 16, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/900.

A member of the Amherst College Class of 1848, William Smith Clark taught various sciences at the college for 15 years. A colonel in the Civil War, he eventually helped to establish the Massachusetts Agricultural College, now known as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, in 1867.

William Smith Clark by Unidentified - (1888). "Frontispiece". Index. Massachusetts Agricultural College (Junior Class). Retrieved on 2011-08-31., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=205660.

Luke Sweetser’s Residence, 1835

CURRENTLY MARSH RESIDENCE HALL

Bachelder, John B. (John Badger), 1825-1894, “Lithograph of Amherst, 1857,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 16, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/900.

Luke Sweetser became a notable figure in town and college life after moving to Amherst in 1820 to attend Amherst Academy. Throughout his nearly 62 years of living in Amherst, he wore many hats, such as that of a merchant, a minister, a farmer, a railroad advocate, a politician, and an Amherst College business committee member. Today’s Sweetser Park, named in his honor and located southwest of his residence, is a popular destination that was once co-owned by the Sweetser and Dickinson families.

Lovell, J. L. (John Lyman), 1825-1903. Uncle Luke Sweetser, ca. 1864. Yankee Publishing Company Records (MS 732). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

William Austin Dickinson’s Residence, 1856

CURRENTLY KNOWN AS THE EVERGREENS

Prouty, Charles, “Evergreens in winter,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 16, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/733.

Austin Dickinson, elder brother of the renowned poet Emily, lived in this home with his family after it was constructed in 1856. Separated from Austin’s childhood home only by a garden, this house was a center of Amherst social culture and hosted influential figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. Today, it is open for tours and has maintained its original 19th Century architecture and furnishings.

Photo: Amherst College Flickr

https://www.flickr.com/photos/amherst_college_archives/5792976525

Edward Dickinson’s Residence, 1813

CURRENTLY KNOWN AS THE EMILY DICKINSON HOMESTEAD

Bachelder, John B. (John Badger), 1825-1894, “Lithograph of Amherst, 1857,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 16, 2017, http://www.digitalamherst.org/items/show/900.

Today, this structure is internationally known as the home in which poet Emily Dickinson spent much of her life. Originally built circa 1813 for Samuel Fowler Dickinson, Emily’s grandfather who helped establish Amherst College at great personal cost, the home eventually passed into the hands of Emily’s father, Edward. Each of the Dickinson generations had substantial influence over the town and college. This residence is currently open to the public for tours and events, offering incredible glimpses into Emily’s life and world.

Edward Dickinson, Congressman from Massachusetts by Edward Wilton Carpenter, Charles Frederick Morehouse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Passenger Station, c.1853

CURRENTLY KNOWN AS AMHERST STATION

Walsh, Tom. Amherst Station (Massachusetts). Photograph, February 17, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Amherst_station_(Massachusetts)&oldid=765963625.

The railroad tracks linking Amherst to Belchertown opened in 1853 much due to the influence of Edward Dickinson. Other than being a source of transportation for townspeople and students alike, the railroad also allowed for the transport of goods into and out of the town. The Hills Company, labeled “Palm Leaf Manfy” on the map and located immediately west of these tracks, also benefitted greatly from this resource. The Hills family became a wealthy and prominent staple of Amherst, influencing both the town and the college.