Historic Preservation Notes +
This postcard shows McMillan Chemical Laboratory (built 1893) and the Gassette Memorial Library (built 1902) both located on the south side of the Albion College quadrangle and both demolished today. These buildings in a classical collegiate style were in a design consistent with the Observatory, Kresge Gynmasium and other buildings located around the Quadrangle. The laboratory was demolished in the 1980s to make way for Olin Hall. Many years later in an interview, college administrator Dale Dopp commented on what a mistake it was to remove the McMillan Laboratory. And he was right.
Built with funds donated by a sitting United States Senator, solicited by another US Senator and Albion resident Washington Gardner, this was a landmark building in Albion before being demolished. True, laboratory standards have changed radically in the 80 years from when the building was first constructed, and the building technologies used were quite different from contemporary standards, but the building has architectural and historic significance for Albion and Albion College that was ignored when the decision to demolish the building was made. Surely some other function could have been decided for the building or it could have been incorporated into a new building located on the site? Instead this special connection to Albion’s past was lost forever.
College administrators have another opportunity to make up for past wrongs by choosing to preserve the Epworth Physical Laboratory instead of destroying it like they did with the McMillan Chemical Laboratory. If a reason to preserve Epworth Laboratory is needed, one only needs to look at Olin Hall and how in terms of design and history it is a poor relation to much older buildings located around the Quadrangle.
Olin Hall is home for Albion’s psychology and biology departments. The buildingcontains classrooms, laboratory space, green house, and faculty offices. OlinHall is prominently placed on the south side of Albion’s quadrangle.
East facade of Olin Hall.
Source: Isaac Kremer, January 2004.
From the Albion College Archives
The home of the Biology and Psychology Departments, Olin Hall was completed in 1983 through a $4.5 million gift from the Olin Foundation. The building is situated nearly on the site of the original McMillan Chemical Laboratory. The Hall contains a large lecture room, classrooms, unique laboratory facilities for psychological experiments, a greenhouse and ultramodern biological laboratories, including an electron microscopy suite. (Fennimore, p.689)
All photographs from the Albion College Archives Postcard Collection, unless otherwise noted.
Olin Hall Classrooms
Source: Albion College Archives, 2003 [Downloaded July 3, 2003]