The year is 1921, the economy is on the rise, the aftermath of World War I is drawing to a close, and the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) College is undergoing some heavy changes.
It’s a midsummer’s day and the summer school students have been put to work digging and removing trees in order to make room for the newest edition to campus, Weiser Hall.
The students, however, aren’t the only ones working to clear room for the new building. Current International YMCA College President, Laurence Locke Doggett, and his faculty members have spent almost a year in anticipation for such an undertaking.
Almost a year before groundbreaking began, the Hampden Hospital, located in Springfield, closed, leaving the city and college out of a health facility. In stepped Clifton A. Cooker and Walter R. Weiser.
Cooker, who was a member of the College’s executive board, approached Doggett with a plan that would change the college landscape forever. Cooker’s plan was for the college to house the city’s infirmary right on campus.
Weiser supported Cooker’s plan and turned over $40,000 of the Hampden Hospital’s financial assets, which would be used for the build. Funds, however, did not come fast and, eventually, in 1921, students were able to break ground.
Finally opened in January, 1923, Weiser Hall instantly became the building to see on campus. With brick outer facing, granite trimming, and a basement that sat three feet below ground level, Weiser was the new standard.
Standing 93 feet tall spanning 44 feet wide, Weiser became home for anything medical pertaining to the International YMCA College, from athletic training to medicine.
Imagine walking into the first floor. On your left are operating rooms with patients from all across western New England, keeping the nurses locked down for hours on end.
On your right, you notice state of the art hydro-therapy facilities, used to relieve muscle tension and ease joint pain. Walk up to the third floor, where the International YMCA College has made its home. There you notice students of the college with all kinds of sicknesses and symptoms. As you avoid a sneezing student’s spray, you wander over to the window and wonder what innovations could come next.
Flash-forward to 1971, Springfield College has decided to refurbish Weiser Hall and move the college infirmary to the Towne Student Health Center. Filling the void left behind by the infirmary, the Humanities Department is given the reigns to the building.
Since then, Weiser has been home to offices, classrooms, the campus’ TV studio and so much more. Although it has transformed throughout the years, Weiser Hall still holds true to its roots. Next time you walk by, be sure to keep an eye out for a remnant of what use to be.