It is the physical manifestation of Dartmouth’s vision, resilience, and commitment to the liberal arts. Twice destroyed by fire and reconfigured for myriad uses over more than two centuries, it is the stately link to Dartmouth’s earliest years.
And now, a group of alumnae dedicated to Dartmouth’s liberal arts tradition invites all women who love the College to invest in the future of Dartmouth Hall so that this crucial academic hub can meet the instructional demands of both today and tomorrow.
With an effort announced at a campaign and 250th Dartmouth anniversary celebration in Boston last Wednesday night, alumnae leaders have pledged $12.5 million to match—dollar for dollar—all gifts toward the renovation of this iconic building. When fully realized, the challenge will provide $25 million toward revitalizing Dartmouth Hall.
Laurel Richie ’81, chair of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees, called on alumnae and students to partner in this renovation of “the grande dame of Dartmouth Row” as a gift to future generations.
Leaving a Legacy
“In thinking about our legacy,” Richie told the 400 guests assembled at the Boston event, “we set our sights on Dartmouth Hall, the birthplace to some of our alma mater’s most significant pedagogical innovations: the Great Issues courses of the 1950s and ’60s; the birth of the concept of artificial intelligence and machine learning; the launch of John Rassias’ revolutionary method of language instruction; and the creation of Dartmouth’s signature study abroad programs.”
Dartmouth intends to transform learning spaces throughout the building. Once updated, Dartmouth Hall will be fully accessible to all members of the Dartmouth community and will feature new technology for teaching. Classrooms, offices, and common spaces will be reconfigured to allow for more innovative research and teaching. The space also will bring together language programs and the Guarini institute for International Education, encouraging stronger collaborations among students and faculty.
The pledge to match up to $12.5 million in gifts toward Dartmouth Hall’s renovation is the latest in a string of philanthropic achievements by Dartmouth alumnae. Previous milestones include creation of the Centennial Circle, a nationally recognized giving society for alumnae making gifts of at least $100,000 to any of Dartmouth’s annual funds, and a separate commitment to have 100 women in the Dartmouth community make gifts of $1 million or more during The Call to Lead campaign.
A Celebrated History
The original wood-frame and clapboard Dartmouth Hall was constructed between 1784 and 1792. During the following century, the structure housed classrooms, the library, a chapel, and students’ rooms. A fire in 1904 destroyed the building, and the response from alumni to rebuild Dartmouth Hall led to the creation of the College’s annual fund.
A second fire, in 1935, severely damaged the upper floors of the building. Trustees responded to this second blaze by deciding to gut the entire building and make it essentially fireproof.
Dartmouth Hall has not had a substantial renovation since then, and alumnae say they are eager to support this crucial project.
“Hearing about the $12.5M matching gift by the women supporting Dartmouth Hall gave me goosebumps,” said Jamie Susanin ’17. “It has always been one of my favorite buildings on campus, and I can’t put into words how inspiring these women are by being so dedicated to advancing the educational opportunities and experiences Dartmouth Hall represents.”