History & Exhibits
The Buildings of Simmons College: The Main College Building and Academic Campus
The Main College Building, featured in this 1909 postcard from the College Archives' collections, was built in 1904 at 300 The Fenway--two years after Simmons College first offered classes!
The Massachusetts Legislature granted the charter to incorporate Simmons Female College on May 24, 1899, and extensive studies were carried out to help plan the College's curriculum and courses of study. After much planning, Simmons College opened its doors on St. Botolph Street October 9, 1902 to its first class of 146 students.
Between 1902 and 1907 Simmons College leased several buildings in and around Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, including classrooms, dormitories, and office space on St. Botolph Street and Huntington Avenue. As the College continued to grow in its early years, a permanent home for Simmons was sought.
In 1903, the Corporation of Simmons College purchased land next to Mrs. Gardner's Fenway Court (now the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) for $180,000 to serve as the permanent site of the College. The architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns designed and constructed a four-story main building in 1904 just in time for the fall semester--almost. The main building included classrooms, offices, typing and shorthand rooms, and laboratories for biology, chemistry and cooking.
A west wing was added in 1909, and an east wing in 1929, for a college building totaling 155,000 square feet. Major renovations were done to the Main College Building in the late 1970s as part of the College's PRIDE Campaign. The glass-walled College Center was constructed on the rear terrace of the building in 2000 and additional renovations to the dining facilities were completed in 2008.
Additions to the main academic campus at 300 The Fenway have been made in 1961 (Beatley Library/Lefavour Hall, renovated in 2006), 1972 (Park Science Center), 2002 (One Palace Road), and 2009 (School of Management Academic Building). Also in 2009, a long-held dream of a grassy quadrangle connecting Simmons' academic and administrative buildings was realized.
Despite the major changes on the Simmons campus, for many generations of Simmons students the Main College Building is a distinctive reminder of the Simmons experience.