Overview - Campus and Buildings

Bowdoin College is located in Brunswick, Maine, a town of approximately 20,000, first settled in 1628, on the banks of the Androscoggin River, a few miles from the shores of Casco Bay. The 215-acre main campus is organized around a central quadrangle. Maps are available on the website.

On the north side of the quadrangle is Massachusetts Hall (1802), the oldest college building in Maine, which now houses the English department. The building was designated a Registered Historical Landmark in 1971, and the campus became part of the Federal Street Historic District in 1976. To the west of Massachusetts Hall, Memorial Hall, built to honor alumni who served in the Civil War and completed in 1882, was completely renovated and reopened in spring 2000. The historic building contains the modernized 610-seat Pickard Theater and the 150-seat Wish Theater in a pavilion linked to Memorial Hall by a glass atrium. Support space houses a scene shop, a costume shop and storage, rehearsal spaces, and dressing rooms for the theater and dance programs.

On the west side of the Quad along Park Row, the Mary Frances Searles Science Building (1894) houses the physics, mathematics, and computer science departments. Adjacent to Searles, the Visual Arts Center (1975) contains the art history department, classrooms, the William Pierce Art Library, and Kresge Auditorium. The Walker Art Building (1894), designed by McKim, Mead and White, houses the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The building underwent a major renovation and expansion and reopened in October 2007. The Harvey Dow Gibson Hall of Music (1954) provides facilities for the music department. At the southwest corner of the quadrangle is the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library Building (1965), which houses the main facilities of the College library, the Media Commons, Telepresence Classroom, and the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives. The offices of the president and the dean for academic affairs are located on the west side of the Hawthorne-Longfellow building.

On the south side of the Quad is Hubbard Hall (1903), once the College’s library and now the site of the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center; the economics, government and legal studies, and history departments; some information technology offices; the library’s Susan Dwight Bliss Room, which houses a small collection of rare illustrated books; and the Shannon Room and Pickering Room, which both serve as multi-purpose classroom and meeting spaces. Portraits of Bowdoin's fourteen previous presidents are exhibited on the second floor. The south wing of Hubbard Hall is connected to the library and contains book stacks and a study room. A carved replica of the building’s original gargoyle now looms atop Hubbard Hall.

In the center of the east side of the Quad is the Chapel, designed by Richard Upjohn and built between 1845 and 1855, a Romanesque church of undressed granite with twin towers and spires that rise to a height of 118 feet. A restoration of the historic Chapel interior was completed in 1997–98, and restoration of the Chapel towers was completed in 2004. Offices of the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good are currently located in Banister Hall, the section of the Chapel building originally used for the College’s library and art collection.

To the north and south of the Chapel is a row of five historic brick buildings: five residence halls south to north—Coleman (1958), Hyde (1917), Appleton (1843), Maine (1808), and Winthrop (1822) halls, with a sixth brick residence hall, Moore Hall (1941), located to the east of Moulton Union. All were renovated between 2005 and 2007.

At the north end of the row of “bricks,” next to Bath Road, is Seth Adams Hall (1861), which once served as the main facility of the Medical School of Maine and now houses the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Africana Studies Program, and the Environmental Studies Program, as well as classrooms and faculty offices. The building underwent an extensive renovation, which was completed in summer 2008.

To the east of the main Quad are two secondary quadrangles divided by a complex comprising Morrell Gymnasium (1965); the LEED Silver-certified Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness (2009), which houses athletics department offices, student health services, and fitness and wellness facilities; Sargent Gymnasium (1912); the David Saul Smith Union (1995, originally built in 1912 as the General Thomas Worcester Hyde Athletic Building); and Studzinski Recital Hall and Kanbar Auditorium (2007, originally built as the Curtis Pool Building in 1927). The David Saul Smith Union houses a large, central, open lounge, the College bookstore and mail center, a café, convenience store, Jack Magee’s Grill, a game room, meeting rooms, and student activities offices.

To the south of Smith Union and Studzinski Recital Hall, an area called the Coe Quadrangle adjoins the Moulton Union (1928), which contains the offices of the dean of student affairs, the registrar, career planning, student fellowships and research, and off-campus study, as well as dining facilities and several conference rooms and lounges. Also in that quadrangle are Moore Hall and the Dudley Coe Building (1917), which contains the Campus Services copy center, the WBOR radio station, and residential life staff and faculty offices.

Across Sills Drive through the pines are Whittier Field (1896), Hubbard Grandstand (1904), and the John Joseph Magee-Joan Benoit Samuelson Track, which was constructed in 1970 as a tribute to Bowdoin Track and Field Coach Jack Magee who led the Polar Bears from 1910 through 1960. The track was rededicated in 2005 in honor of Olympic Champion Joan Benoit Samuelson ’79. The complex was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017 and is undergoing major renovations and upgrades during 2017-2018. The Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center (2002), campus headquarters of the Bowdoin Outing Club, is located on Sills Drive near the entrance to Whittier Field. Under construction across the street from the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center (at the corner of College Street and Harpswell Road) is the Roux Center for the Environment, which will open in the fall of 2018.

To the northwest of the Coe Quadrangle, a multidisciplinary science center (1997) combines 75,000 square feet of recent construction, named Stanley F. Druckenmiller Hall in honor of the grandfather of the building’s chief donor, Stanley F. Druckenmiller ’75; and 30,000 square feet of space in Parker Cleaveland Hall (1952), which is named for the nineteenth-century Bowdoin professor who was a pioneer in geological studies. The science facility is linked to the Hatch Science Library, which opened in 1991. The complex houses the biology, chemistry, and earth and oceanographic science departments.

Adjoining the science facilities is Sills Hall (1950), home to the classics, German, Romance languages and literatures, and Russian departments, in addition to the Cinema Studies Program. One wing of Sills Hall houses Smith Auditorium, which is used for film screenings and other presentations.

Kanbar Hall, located at the corner of Bath Road and Sills Drive adjacent to Smith Auditorium, opened in September 2004. The 26,000-square-foot building houses faculty offices, the psychology and religion departments, and the College’s Center for Learning and Teaching, which includes the Baldwin Program for Academic Development, the Quantitative Reasoning Program, the Writing Project, English for Multi-Lingual Speakers, and Writing and Rhetoric.

On College Street near Coles Tower, the John Brown Russwurm African American Center, which opened in 1970 as a center for African American studies, was formerly a faculty residence known as the Little-Mitchell House (1827). Named in honor of Bowdoin’s first African American graduate, the center houses a reading room and a library of African and African American source materials.

The Russwurm African American Center stands in front of the sixteen-story Coles Tower (1964), which provides student living and study quarters, seminar and conference rooms, lounges, and the Office of Events and Summer Programs. Connected to the tower are dining facilities in Frederick G. P. Thorne Hall, which includes Wentworth Servery and Daggett Lounge. The basement of Thorne Hall houses information technology offices. Sarah Orne Jewett Hall, the third side of the Coles Tower complex, houses several administrative offices.

To the east of the Coles Tower complex are two residence halls completed in the summer of 1996. The six-story Harriet Beecher Stowe Hall is named in honor of the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The four-story Oliver Otis Howard Hall is named in honor of Major General Oliver Otis Howard of the Class of 1850, first commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau and founder of some seventy educational institutions, among them Howard University. Chamberlain Hall, named for Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the Class of 1852, was completed in the summer of 1999 and stands on the west side of Coles Tower. Two student residence halls, Osher Hall and West Hall, located on the corner of South Street and Coffin Street, opened in 2005 and received LEED Silver designations in 2006. The Children’s Center, which is located to the south of Chamberlain Hall, opened in 2003.

The Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center for Art and Dance opened in August 2013 directly across the street and to the south of Thorne Hall on the site of the former Longfellow Elementary School. The Edwards Center enables faculty and students engaged in dance, painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, printmaking, woodworking, and digital media and design to work together under a single roof, creating a cohesive arts community and numerous opportunities for artistic synergy.

The building at 4 College Street (1901), which stands to the west of Coles Tower and which formerly housed the Delta Kappa Epsilon and the Kappa Delta Theta fraternities, was extensively renovated in 2000 to serve as the admissions office. The building was renamed the Burton-Little House in honor and memory of Harold Hitz Burton (Class of 1909, LL.D. 1937), United States Supreme Court Justice from 1945 to 1958; and of George T. Little (Class of 1877), who was for many years a Bowdoin professor, librarian, and College historian and an ardent benefactor of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. The offices of Upward Bound are located in Gustafson House, 261 Maine Street, which also houses some counseling services offices.

Various offices occupy buildings around the perimeter of the campus, many of them in historic houses donated by townspeople and former members of the faculty. The Asian Studies Program inhabits 38 College Street. The Women’s Resource Center, at 24 College Street, includes a library, meeting rooms, and the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. The Herbert Ross Brown House, at 32 College Street, houses counseling service offices. Boody-Johnson House (1849), on Maine Street, is named for Henry Hill Boody, a member of the Class of 1842 and a teacher of Greek and rhetoric at the College, who hired the architect Gervase Wheeler to design the house for him; and for Henry Johnson, a distinguished member of the faculty and first director of the Museum of Art, and Frances Robinson Johnson. The building was designated a Registered Historical Landmark in 1975. It contains faculty and staff offices, as well as meeting and seminar spaces. Chase Barn Chamber, located in the ell, is used for small classes, seminars, and conferences. Ashby House (1845–55), next to Boody-Johnson House, was renovated in 2015 and is occupied by the Office of Student Aid. A new 10,000-square-foot administrative building opened in January 2015 at 216 Maine Street. It houses the offices of human resources; the controller; and institutional research, analytics, and consulting.

On Bath Road, Ham House (3 Bath Road) and the former Getchell House have both undergone extensive renovations. Ham House now serves as the location of the treasurer’s office, while Getchell House, now the Edward Pols House (5 Bath Road), contains offices of the philosophy department and faculty in Latin American studies. The Matilda White Riley House at 7 Bath Road houses the education department. The investments office is located at 80 Federal Street, which was renovated in 2007.

Surrounding the central campus are various athletics, residential, and support buildings. The largest of these is the athletics complex two blocks south of Coles Tower. Here are the William Farley Field House (1987) and Bowdoin’s sixteen-lane A. LeRoy Greason Swimming Pool; Pickard Field House (1937); the Lubin Family Squash Center (1999) with seven international courts; eight outdoor tennis courts; Pickard Field; the Howard F. Ryan AstroTurf Field (2003; turf replaced in 2013); and sixty acres of playing fields. The LEED-certified Sidney J. Watson Arena, the 1,900-seat home of Bowdoin ice hockey, opened in 2009.

Located near the train station northwest of campus, the Brunswick Town Hall—formerly the McLellan Building (85 Union Street)—houses third-floor offices for communications and public affairs, digital and social media, and information technology. 

On the north side of the campus, Rhodes Hall (1867), once the Bath Street Primary School, houses the offices of facilities management and safety and security. The former home of Bowdoin’s presidents, 85 Federal Street (1860) was converted in 1982 for the use of the development office. Cram Alumni House (1857), next door to 85 Federal, is the center of alumni activities at Bowdoin. Cleaveland House (1806), the former residence of Professor Parker Cleaveland (1806), at 75 Federal Street, has previously served as the president’s house and is currently used for official College functions and guests. Copeland House, formerly the home of Manton Copeland, professor of biology from 1908 until 1947, provides additional space for development offices. The colonial home at 79 Federal Street (1790) now serves as the College president’s official residence. The College has owned the historic Harriett Beecher Stowe House at 63 Federal Street since 2001. The home, where Harriet Beecher Stowe penned Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was extensively renovated in 2015 to provide faculty offices and a room, known as Harriet's Writing Room, that is dedicated to Stowe and open to the public.

Student residences and former fraternity houses, many of them in historic buildings, are scattered in the residential streets around the campus. Several of these have been selected to serve as College Houses as part of the College House System. These include the LEED Gold-certified 52 Harpswell Road (the former Stevens Home), which was acquired and renovated by the College in 2014 and opened as a thirty-five-bed student residence at the start of the 2014-2015 academic year; Baxter House (1901), designed by Chapman and Frazer and built by Hartley C. Baxter, of the Class of 1878; Burnett House, built in 1858 and for many years the home of Professor and Mrs. Charles T. Burnett; Reed House (1932), formerly the Chi Psi fraternity house; Helmreich House (1900), formerly the Alpha Rho Upsilon fraternity house and named in honor of Professor Ernst Helmreich; Howell House (1924), the former Alpha Delta fraternity house, now named in honor of Bowdoin’s tenth president, Roger Howell Jr.; the former Psi Upsilon fraternity house, now named the George (Pat) Hunnewell Quinby House (1903) in honor of a former director of theater at Bowdoin (1934–1966); Samuel A. Ladd Jr. House (1929), formerly Zeta Psi/Chi Delta, at 14 College Street; and the Donald B. MacMillan House (1942), formerly Theta Delta Chi, at 5 McKeen Street.

Additional College-owned student residences include the Brunswick Apartments, on Maine Street, which provide housing for over 200 students; 10 Cleaveland Street; the recently renovated 30 College Street, which also houses a multicultural center; the Harpswell Street Apartments and the Pine Street Apartments, which opened in the fall of 1973; the Mayflower Apartments, at 14 Belmont Street, about two blocks from the campus; and the Winfield Smith House, named in memory of L. Winfield Smith, of the Class of 1907.

The College has acquired 131 acres on the site of the former Naval Air Station in Brunswick for educational use and expects to acquire an additional 143 acres in the future. A publicly accessible pedestrian and bicycle path linking Pine Street to Brunswick Landing opened this property in 2015. The property also includes a three-acre solar array (2014) linked to additional solar panels on Bowdoin's athletic facility roofs that, combined, provide approximately 8 percent of the College's electricity. Research and field stations, which in some cases also serve as areas for outdoor recreation, include the Bowdoin Pines, on the Federal Street and Bath Street edge of the campus; and the 118-acre Coastal Studies Center, located on nearby Orrs Island, with marine and terrestrial laboratories, a pier facility located on Harpswell Sound, a farmhouse and seminar facility, and the Charles M. Leighton Sailing Center, which opened in 2014. Facilities located adjacent to Sawyer Park on the New Meadows River in Brunswick are used by the rowing team. The Bowdoin Scientific Station is located on Kent Island, Bay of Fundy, Canada. In 2005, the College acquired two neighboring islands, Hay and Sheep, to preserve the unique environment offered by the scientific station.

The architectural history of the campus is thoroughly discussed in The Architecture of Bowdoin College (Brunswick: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1988), by Patricia McGraw Anderson. The book is available at the Bowdoin College Library and online at https://archive.org/details/architectureofbowd00ande.