Enrollment at North Adams State College (NASC), now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), boomed after construction of three new buildings: Bowman Hall, Eldridge Hall and Freel Library. Costing over $3 million dollars when construction concluded in 1971, the additional space afforded NASC the ability to increase enrollment from 614 students in the 1966-67 school year to 1,519 students after conclusion of construction in the 1971-72 school year.
Since 1971, Bowman Hall has received one complete interior renovation, which took place between 2013 and 2016. The ‘new’ Bowman Hall includes new heating-and-cooling devices, new windows, and “short-throw” projectors that allow the wall to act as a touch-screen monitor. In addition, fourteen classrooms, new faculty offices, four art studios, four conference rooms, and a new eating area now provide ample space for students and professors.
Eldridge Hall received plumbing and electrical renovations in 1983. No further renovations have been scheduled for this administration building.
Of the three buildings, only Freel Library required brick during construction. The Spaulding Brick Company in Holly Springs, Mississippi, provided bricks for the Library. The building’s architect felt this Mississippi brick possessed “such a splendid texture” (James Lawrence Jr. to Andrew S. Flagg, 14 December 1967, College Archives, Freel Library).
Prior to construction of the three buildings, students and faculty had access to a wide swath of open land on the college campus. Once construction concluded, the college community experienced a significant reduction in open land. The remaining open space, now known colloquially as the “Quad,” sees frequent use, especially in warm weather. Students use the Quad as a gathering area; clubs use the Quad for a variety of activities; protests come to life at the Quad, and professors use the Quad for occasional classroom respite.