|Campus on the move
The development of Skidmore’s campus is a century-long saga of expansion, creative use, adjustment, relocation, and acceptance of continual change. Lucy Skidmore Scribner started her Young Women’s Industrial Club in 1903 in modest quarters—the parsonage adjoining her church, in the heart of Saratoga Springs. But even before the YWIC opened, Mrs. Scribner may have foreseen its rapid expansion.
—New York Daily Tribune,
In 1908 The YWIC did expand into Temple Grove. Rechristened Skidmore Hall, it became the core of the Skidmore School of Arts, which soon grew to fill a city block. By the time Skidmore became a college in 1922, growth and change were the norm.
—Skidmore Alumnae Quarterly,
—New York Times,
Campus facilities were constantly adapted and reassigned to accommodate enrollment growth, curricular change, and sometimes disaster (as when South Hall burned down in 1937). Skidmore broke ground for a new library in 1940 and soon developed the Fifty Acres athletic facility on land purchased from the Yaddo artists retreat. Fathers Hall, the long-awaited modern dining hall, debuted in 1951. And in 1958 Moore Hall dormitory added a large—and very pink—element of modernity to Union Avenue.
In 1960 the college developed a twenty-five year plan to modernize and expand within a compact area downtown. But that was soon superseded by an even grander plan—to build an entirely new campus, on the abandoned Woodlawn estate at the north end of town. Trustee J. Erik Jonsson and wife Margaret donated money for the purchase, and the board of trustees voted in 1961 to begin construction.
The transition from old campus to new took many years; for thirteen of them, two campuses operated simultaneously. Through it all (including construction strikes, budget troubles, and seas of mud), the Skidmore spirit proved resilient.
The college’s “center of gravity” finally shifted to the new campus with the completion of Ladd Hall and Case College Center in the 1970s.
Make No Small Plans
In the 1980s the Jonsson Campus gained a sports center, classroom buildings, and a new dormitory. But by the early 1990s a report noted that Skidmore’s “new campus” was no longer new; its earliest facilities were in need of renewal. Before the decade was out, Scribner Library and Dana Science Center were expanded, a lighted outdoor athletic complex was built, and the dramatic new Tang Museum debuted to rave reviews. Other projects, such as renovating the Filene Music Building, still waited.
Just this spring Moore Hall—Skidmore’s last facility downtown—went up for sale, and architects are designing a new student housing complex for the northwest corner of campus. Meanwhile, Skidmore’s boathouse, baseball diamond, and riding stables remain off campus, the college maintains study-abroad offices in Europe and Asia, and UWW and MALS students engage in study from all around the world. Clearly, Skidmore is much too complicated to tuck neatly into pockets, pigeonholes, or campus confines.
|Editor’s note: Click here for an interactive map of the old campus.