Here and There at Tufts

Doane, Lewis


Chemistry Department


For some years, prior to 1894, the Chemical Department had occupied the lower floor of Ballou Hall, except that part now used for offices by the College, the President, and Professor Whittemore. As the College grew, this space became too small for the Chemical laboratory. The laboratory odors were objectionable to some instructors in the building and the need of more recitation rooms as well as laboratory space became urgent.

To meet this emergency, the Trustees, early in the summer of 1894, decided to remove the Chemical Department bodily from Ballou Hall and to construct, near the site of the old College barn, a wooden building for a chemical laboratory. The superintendent of grounds and buildings, the College carpenter, and workmen began work late in the summer and the structure was completed and occupied in October, 1894. This temporary building, designed to last eight years, is still the home of the Chemical Department.

The dimensions are as follows: Length, one hundred feet; width, fifty feet. It has one story and a high, fairly well-lighted basement. Consequently the floor space is ten thousand square feet. The general chemistry and qualitative analysis laboratory is on the first floor, a store room for chemicals and one for apparatus, two rooms for quantitative analysis, one for organic and theoretical chemistry, a professor's private laboratory, and the department library and balance room. The lecture room is situated on the lower floor, a professor's private library, the assaying laboratory, boiler room, and large room for laboratory supplies.

The fixed furniture in these rooms was partly borrowed and partly made for the occasion. First for the sake of economy and that the transition from the old to the new laboratory might not shock the nerves of the students and instructors, the old desks with their gas and water fixtures were moved down from Ballou Hall and installed, and to keep them from being carried off inadvertently as souvenirs, the rooms were fitted with second-hand doors and locks from East Hall. The college carpenter constructed other desks, which looked new, and put up shelves and hoods. The East Hall doors and Ballou Hall desks and fixtures in the same rooms with new desks, produced the effect of shreds and patches, or, perhaps, of Joseph's coat, but in spite of their unprepossessing appearance, they were well adapted and arranged for actual chemical work. The plumbing, gas, and steam fitting was ample and convenient. In spite of these facts, however, its most ardent admirer never claimed that the chemical laboratory, interior or exterior, was a work of art.

In equipping the Laboratory with chemicals and apparatus, a somewhat different policy has prevailed. Economy has been to the fore as in the construction of the building, but the economy that procures at the least price the thing that will do the work demanded of it in the best possible way. The department has always improved the opportunity to import duty free. The result is that the laboratory equipment is well up to date and sufficient for practically all kinds of chemical work. It will not suffer by comparison with the chemical equipment of many institutions far more pretentious than Tufts College.

The work performed in this temporary building, during the past thirteen years would seem to justify its existence. Within it many investigations in pure science have been made and many technical problems solved. Growth in numbers of students has been great. In 1893, the year before the Laboratory was built, the beginning class contained twenty-eight, but would have contained twelve more if a change in the programme had not cut out the engineers. There were ninety-seven beginning chemisty last year and this year one hundred and sixteen. The growth in students from the College of Letters has been more than one hundred per cent and a little greater from the Engineering side of the College. One hundred and sixty students work in a single room, fifty by fifty-nine feet. Every desk in the quantitative and organic laboratories is occupied. There are more students than the building can properly accommodate and everything points to larger classes next year. To add to the difficulties, occasioned by insufficient space and ventilation, the steam, water, and gas fixtures have quite outlived their usefulness. The rainbow curves in the lecture room show how much the building itself has settled. Unless the Chemical Department can have a new building immediately, its teaching efficiency cannot be maintained.

F. W. D.

  • Here and There at Tufts, was published by the class of 1909 as an early form of a yearbook. The text includes photographs and histories of academic buildings, dormitories, former deans and presidents, classrooms, fraternities, athletic teams, and student organizations.
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