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WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS., Dec. 4, 2001–“Reflections on the Architecture of Williams College” will be released this week. The 208-page volume is written by Whitney S. Stoddard ’35, professor of art history emeritus, and edited by Thomas W. Bleezarde, former editor of The Williams Alumni Review. It contains 297 color illustrations including more than 150 new photographs of the campus by Arthur W. Evans, art and architecture photographer.
Stoddard, a member of the faculty since 1938, has based the text on his 40-year-old campus architectural lectures-tours, given into the mid-1980s to entering freshmen, titled “A Sense of Where You Are,” and later, at the request of the senior classes, just before graduation as “A Sense of Where You Were.” Soon there was a large body of alumni who recalled the lectures and began to ask Stoddard to recreate the program and it became a slide illustrated talk given to regional alumni groups. He has traveled the country giving the slide talk to hundreds of alumni.
In the book Stoddard expands on his lecture subject, discussing the architects and the design of all of the campus buildings from the very first, West College, to the latest, the Morley Science Center, and injecting commentary on campus planning and town-gown interaction.
It opens with the story of the survey commissioned by Col. Ephraim Williams which created Williamstown and closes with illustrated appendices which provide information about buildings which are no longer standing, campus monuments and the former fraternity houses.
The text is in Stoddard’s insightful and straightforward style, and is replete with the humor he often employs to make his points.
Stoddard, a renowned art historian, is a 1935 graduate of Williams with a Ph.D. from Harvard. He taught at Williams from 1938 until he retired in 1982 and continues part-time teaching and “guest lecturing.” This is his fifth book and he has been honored by the International Center of Medieval Art and by the College Art Association of America. Williams presented him its highest alumni honor, The Rogerson Cup, in 1978 and a honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in October of this year.
The book is lavishly illustrated with all 287 photographs, maps and charts, reproduced in the four-color printing process. All of the existing campus buildings are presented in the 150 new color plates by Evans who has done extensive work for the Clark Art Institute, MassMOCA and the Williams College Museum of Art.
Evans, a “lightsmith,” works to capture the essence of fine art, architecture and nature through interpretation of light. A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, he is known for taking on difficult subjects and enjoys the challenge of new problems while maintaining a high standard of excellence.
Besides his 32-year tenure as editor of the Williams alumni magazine, Bleezarde, a Hamilton graduate, has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist. He has played a role in the publication of several books on history of Williams and the Williams campus. He was the editor of a collection of essays by Phillip H. Warren, “What’s in a Name,” which contained short biographies of the people for whom more than 60 Williams campus buildings are named. He also played a role in the production of the college’s bicentennial publication, “Williams 1793-1993: A Pictorial History,” as well as the second edition of “Mark Hopkins and the Log,” a history of Williams by Frederick Rudolph ’42, emeritus professor of history, and “Newhall and Williams College” by the late history professor Russell H. Bostert.
A foreword to the new volume has been written by Williams Trustee William E. Simon Jr. ’73, who underwrote the book’s production costs, and a preface by art historian and squashcoach David C. Johnson ’71, coordinator of the publication project. Simon and Johnson, both Art 101 students of Stoddard, came up with the idea for producing the book and, after convincing Stoddard to write it, put together the team which created it.
The book was designed by the Abigail Sturges Design studio in New York City and printed by Wolf ColorPrint in Newington, Conn. It sells for $49.95 and is available at local bookstores and museum shops.