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Free walking tours of Vassar history offered on October 3, 17, & 31, 2009.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- Free two-hour walking tours of the historic Vassar College campus will be held October 3, October 17, and October 31. October 3 will include one tour at 10:00 a.m. jointly led by Professor of Psychology Randy Cornelius and Associate Professor of Chemistry Chris Smart (Smart is also a 1984 Vassar graduate). Then, on October 17 and October 31, tours will be held at both 10:00am and 1:00pm and led by Colton  Johnson, Dean Emeritus of the College. All tours will begin at the front entrance to the college’s Main Building, and will be held rain or shine.
Highlights of the tours will include two Vassar structures on the National Register of Historic Places -- Main Building (1865), as well as the recently restored Maria Mitchell Observatory (1864), built and named for the preeminent astronomer who was the college's first faculty member. The tours will also feature Vassar's  Thompson Memorial Library, famous both as an early exemplar of collegiate gothic design and for its sizeable Cornaro stained glass window.

Space is limited, so to sign up for one of the free walking tours, or for more information, contact Martha Morrison in the Office of College Relations (mamorrison@vassar.edu, (845-437-7405).  Vassar is located on Raymond Avenue in the Town of Poughkeepsie, and free on-campus parking is available. Directions to the campus can be found online.

In the 2004 book Vassar College: The Campus Guide (Princeton Architectural Press), co-authors Karen Van Lengen and Lisa Reilly, both architectural historians and Vassar alumnae, note the informative and symbolic nature of the Vassar campus.  Citing Winston Churchill’s dictum that “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us,” Reilly says “This is true of our buildings but of our landscapes as well, and nowhere is this more apparent than at Vassar.”  And of Main Building, the college's historic center, Van Lengen asks “What could have been more symbolic than to start a college for women and build the largest building in America to house that program?”

From its founding in 1861, the college set out to create an exceptional physical environment for learning. Steady integration of thoughtful landscape and structural design transformed the former Dutchess County Racetrack into one of the world's most revered academic places. Significantly, Vassar has never relied upon a predominant architectural style, and it has been exceptionally sparing in replacing buildings.  Thus, it has become both a showcase for the work of such leading and varied architects as James Renwick, Jr. Francis R. Allen, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, and Cesar Pelli and a demonstration site for the adaptive reuse of built space.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, September 21, 2009