Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


Stearns Village, 1946-1955


Stearns Village was a temporary housing community constructed by Tufts during the spring of 1946 in an attempt to alleviate the housing shortages that daunted veterans and their families returning to the college on the G.I. Bill of Rights after World War II.

The village was located on the property known as the Stearns Estate on College Avenue, adjoining , facing Stanley Street. George L. Stearns was a local pre-Civil war businessman and supporter of the abolitionist movement. The estate served as a stop on the underground railroad assisting slaves to escape from the south to the north. After World War I, Stearns' widow bequeathed the estate to Tufts. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, the land remained undeveloped until the college was faced with the housing crisis.

Twelve temporary buildings, housing eighty apartments, were obtained through the Federal Public Housing Administration (FPHA). The units had been previously used to house employees of an aircraft plant in Hartford, Connecticut. FPHA financed the relocation of the complex, which was disassembled, trucked to its new location, and reassembled. Construction began in March 1946. By late April, half of the units were in place and the entire complex was ready for its first occupants for summer school session at the end of June.

At first, preference for occupancy was given to dental, medical and graduate students with a few undergraduate veterans being included. Later, due to a housing shortage in the area, junior faculty members unable to secure living quarters were admitted to the residences.

Each two-story building housed six to seven families. The units were divided into sixteen studio, eight one-bedroom and fifty-six two-bedroom apartments. Each had its own heating, plumbing and cooking facilities. These appliances included an old-fashioned ice-box and an oil heater in each living room. Refrigerators were left to be purchased by the tenants. An elaborate clothesline schedule was set up, exemplifying the cramped quarters and space limitations of the village. FPHA allocated bedding and bath furnishings for the units. Rent ranged from $22.50 to $30.75 a month for a unit, depending on its size. An additional $3.00-$5.50 was charged if the tenants wanted furnishings included.

The initial population included more than forty children, and towards the end of its existence, the village was reported to have the highest birth rate in Middlesex County. This led to the establishment of a cooperative babysitting league. The Tufts Wives Club was also formed in 1946 to provide an outlet for the "book worm widows" that lived in the village while their husbands completed their degrees. Under the club's guidance, the league evolved into a licensed day-care center, the Stearns Village Nursery School, which existed from 1949-1951. It was then absorbed by the Boston Nursery Training School, which changed its name in 1955 to the Eliot-Pearson Children's School.

Technically, the Stearns Village and its activities were under FPHA's jurisdiction, with Tufts being responsible for periodic reports. In 1948, the federal government turned over the entire responsibility for the operation to the college. Due to housing shortages, Tufts asked FPHA for a five year extension of the life of the village, which was also approved by Medford.

Architect Arland A. Dirlam, A1926, had originally proposed plans to make the pre-fabricated homes more attractive. Unfortunately, they were never enacted. The temporary structures were not aesthetically pleasing additions to the campus, nor were they built to withstand an additional five years use. Paved roadways led to each building and provided parking, but no other major landscaping efforts were made. The deterioration of the structures over the ten-year period included the total collapse of one end of one the units. The village was torn down in 1955.

The area was transformed into a parking area, known as Stearns Lot, and provided the land for the Eliot-Pearson Children's School. In 1999, the parking lot became the site of the Gantcher Family Sports and Convocation Center.

Source: LOH1, 698, 650; LOH2, 10; BG13

Subject terms:
  • The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.
This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
Numeric Entries
Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
Davies, Caroline Stodder, 1864-1939
Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
Department of Biochemistry, 1893
Department of Chemistry, 1882
Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
Department of Medicine, 1893
Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Department of Neurology, 1893
Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
Department of Ophthamology, 1893
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
Department of Pathology, 1893
Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
Department of Physiology, 1893
Department of Psychiatry, 1928
Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
Department of Radiology, 1915
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
 List of Sources